Tony Grist (poliphilo) wrote,
Tony Grist

Napoleon On St Helena

Most of the pictures of Napoleon on St Helena show him dressed in his little corporal's outfit standing or sitting on a picturesque headland gazing out to sea. I doubt he ever actually struck that pose ( he wanted respect not pity) but it's an affecting image and there are many, many versions, quite a few of them by British artists because the British love Napoleon. Even Turner had a go- though he varied the formula by having the Emperor with his back to a blazing sunset, gazing at an anemone in a rock pool.

He wanted his captors to address him as Majesty and they wouldn't, but was happy for 13 year-old Betsy Balcombe to call him Boney.

The picture I like best is by Horace Vernet. His Napoleon is doing the gazing out to sea thing but has changed his uniform for a baggy white suit and straw hat and is sitting on a rustic bench with a newspaper under his elbow. It won't have been done from life but I imagine it's the truest. 
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