Funérailles de l’Empereur Napoléon , Album de lithographies. Ouvrage dédié à Son Altesse Royale le prince de Joinville, chargé par le roi d’accomplir le dernier voeu de l’Empereur
'I wish my remains to rest on the banks of the Seine among the people of France whom I so much loved.' (Last Will and Testament of Napoleon I)
The lithographs in this large album (60 x 45) were collected and put on sale by the publisher Victor Delarue, who had a penchant for publishing ‘art books'. For instance, he had published a series of lithographs in 1836 about the First Empire as depicted by the painter Denis-Auguste-Marie Raffet. The success of this edition led him to continue his publications with the strong sense of nostalgia that surrounded the first fifteen years of the 19th century.
The journey of Napoleon I's ashes from the far-flung island of St Helena where he died in exile to the frozen banks of the Seine which welcomed him in December of 1840, offered plenty of material for grand and moving tableaux, which are rendered excellently by the etchings contained in this volume.
The main engravers were François Fortuneé Antoine Férogio, (Marseille, 2 April 1805 – 1888, Paris) artist, watercolourist, engraver of steel and lithographs. He was trained in the workshop of the painter Gros, though his disciple Girard remains relatively unknown. They drew the 7 lithographs of the funerary events that took place within of the city of Paris.
The works relating the sea journey were sketched by artists and people who were present; these were later turned into lithographs. The maritime painter Léon Antoine Morel-Fatio (Rouen, 1810 – 1871, Paris) also illustrator and engraver of wood and steel painted and lithographed the arrival of the imperial coffin at Cherbourg then at Rouen.
When you open this souvenir album, take time to examine the lithographs (which can be enlarged in the interface) in order to discover the fine details of the etchings, such as the sailors at Jamestown harbour up on the bulwark masts as the funeral barque glides across the calm sea, or the huge crowd, patiently and attentively watching the cortège pass by.