Napoleon Bonaparte - Hero or Tyrant, circa 1820
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Overall: 19.5cm (7.5in) x 19.5cm (7.5in)]
Watercolour profile portrait roundel. French school, early 19th century, contained in a gilt wood square frame inscribed ‘Magnae Virtutes Nec Minora Vitia’ (Great virtues, nor less vices). Image diameter: 5.5cm (2.25in). Framed and glazed.
The present portrait is a post Napoleonic commentary on the contradictory nature of Napoleon and the admiration and loathing he inspired. He called himself a ‘son of the revolution’ and the champion of its principles: liberty, equality and fraternity. But as Marquis de la Cases' Journals of the Private Life and Conversations of the Emperor Napoleon, point out, he also said that ‘revolution is one of the greatest evils by which mankind can be visited.’