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Bust of Napoleon

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Achille Collas
French (1795 - 1859) Secondary

Antoine-Denis Chaudet
French (1763 - 1810) Primary

Maison Barbedienne

Bust of Napoleon

1838 - 1859

9 1/4 in. x 4 in. x 4 1/4 in. (23.5 cm x 10.16 cm x 10.8 cm)
Bequest of M. Carey Thomas, President of Bryn Mawr College, 1894-1922

Bryn Mawr College
Accession Number: W.510
Geography: Europe, France, Paris
Classification: Fine and Visual Arts; Sculptures
Culture/Nationality: French
Collection: Deanery Collection
The bronze bust of Napoleon Bonaparte in the Deanery Collection at Bryn Mawr College is a small-scale reproduction of an official portrait of Napoleon by Antoine Denis Chaudet (1763-1810).
The original marble bust of Napoleon was created by Chaudet in 1804 and was widely reproduced as an official portrait type. Reproduction of the portrait was done on a large scale in Italy, under the direction of Napoleon’s sister, Elisa Baciocchi (1777-1820). From 1807-1809 Baciocchi had over 1200 copies made by the Carrara workshops, which were under her control, for public display. Most of these original marble copies, as well as Chaudet’s original, were either destroyed by Napoleon’s successors or have been lost. The marble bust in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London might be a rare example of these Italian reproductions.
In addition to the Italian copies in marble, the Sèvres Porcelain Factory outside Paris produced three different sized reproductions in hard paste porcelain in 1805. Several of these porcelain replicas exist around the world in various museums, such as the National Museum in Cardiff (Wales, UK) and the Museum of Fine Arts (Boston, US).
The Maison Barbedienne, a commercial Parisian foundry owned by Ferdinand Barbedienne (1810-1892), recreated Chaudet’s design in bronze, an example of which is the piece in the Bryn Mawr collection today. On the right side of the bust near the shoulder the letters “F. BARBEDIENNE FONDOUR” mark the piece as from the Maison Barbedienne foundry.
The Maison Barbedienne was able to produce this smaller replica of Chaudet’s design through Achille Collas’ (1795-1859) invention of the machine à rédure, a pantograph capable of reproducing three dimensional objects. Collas patented his device in 1837 and in 1838 he entered into an exclusive contract with Barbedienne to create faithful, small-scale reproductions of famous works of art. The bronze bust at Bryn Mawr is an example of their collaboration. In addition to the foundry’s mark, there is a small round stamp located on the lower left side on the back of the base that consists of words encircling a portrait in profile. The stamp reads “REDUCTIO[N] [ME]CANIQUE / A. COLLAS / [B]REVETE,” which indicates the use of Collas’ patented (Fr. breveté) machine. The portrait in the center most likely represents Collas, but could also possibly be Barbedienne.

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<ref name=BMC>cite web |url= |title=Bust of Napoleon |author=Bryn Mawr College Library Special Collections |accessdate=1/22/2022 |publisher=Bryn Mawr College</ref>

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