The sisters Zenaide and Carlotta

Jacques-Louis David, Zenaide e Charlotte Bonaparte, 1821

Jacques-Louis David (1748 - 1825)

Material and technique: 
Oil on canvas
cm 130x97
inv. mn 935

This double portrait of Zenaide and Carlotta, daughters of the king, Joseph Bonaparte, and of Giulia Clary, was commissioned from Jacques-Louis David in 1821 in Brussels, where the great painter lived in exile from 1816. Joseph’s family, which, after Waterloo, took refuge in America, stayed in this city for several years from June 1820. As the signed receipt (inv. MN 923), which the artist gave to the Countess de Survilliers (the title assumed by Giulia Clary after 1815) in the 25th June 1821, shows, David created an original at a cost of four thousand francs and two copies at a cost of a thousand francs each. The work displayed here is one of the copies (the other is in Toulon and differs from this in that it has crosses on the divan, rather than bees); the original, previously in Roccagiovine collection, is now in the Paul Getty Museum.
Zenaide (1801-1854), who is painted with a letter from her father in her hand, which her father had sent from Philadelphia, married her cousin Carlo Luciano Bonaparte, Prince of Canino, and Lucian’s firstborn, in Brussels on the 29th June 1822.
Carlotta (1802-1839), married her cousin Napoleon Luigi, son of Luigi Bonaparte in 1826; already a pupil of David’s in Paris, after her marriage she dedicated herself to painting and drawing under the guidance of Léopold Robert and Samuel Jesi.

Masterpieces of the hall

The hall

Sala IX

This room is decorated with frescos, brought to light and restored in recent times, which bear witness to the neo-gothic taste which was particularly in vogue around 1830-40. These years were central to the life events of Zenaide and Carlotta, daughters of Joseph Bonaparte, to whom the room is dedicated.

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