The original marble by Chaudet was executed around the time that Napoleon proclaimed himself Emperor in 1810. This later, weathered, plaster copy however gains intrinsic appeal from the interesting provenance.
Madeleine Castaing (18941992) and her husband Marcellin were pillars of the artistic community of Montparnasse and became intimate friends of such avant-garde artists and writers as Andr Derain, Fernand Lger, Pablo Picasso, Blaise Cendrars, and especially Soutine. The Castaings led a very cosmopolitan lifestyle, and were especially interested in antiques and interior design. Madame Castaing herself was a prominent antiquaire and interior decorator for more than fifty years, and is credited with introducing to France a new fashion for English eighteenth-century furniture. Her shop in central Paris drew people from around the world right up until her death in 1992.
This bust was purchased from Castaings shop sometime after the Second World War by a private collector in Paris. It was acquired by Madame Castaing when Frances foremost military academy, cole Spciale Militaire de Saint-Cyr had to relocate due to heavy bomb damage. It is for this reason that the bust is in its present condition having been retrieved from the wreckage of the old academy buildings around 1945. Napoleon founded the military academy of Saint-Cyr in 1808.