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  'The Emperor Napoleon Apotheosized' by Bertel Thorvaldsen  
                 
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Formerly in Hamilton Palace, South Lanarkshire, now probably in the Thorvaldsen Museum, Copenhagen

In 1846 the 10th Duke of Hamilton purchased the marble bust of Napoleon apotheosized which Alexander Murray of Broughton had commissioned from the great Danish sculptor Bertel Thorvaldsen (1770-1844) in Rome in 1829. Like the duke, Murray was a Whig and served as MP for Kirkcudbrightshire from 1838 until his death in July 1845. He built up an important collection (including other works by Thorvaldsen) at Cally House, near Gatehouse-of-Fleet -about 100km south of Hamilton Palace -which was dispersed by auction in January 1846. The 10th Duke sent his clerk of works to buy the bust on 20 January and it was set up in the Tribune, on the first floor of Hamilton Palace, the following month.

 
                 
 

The Murray-Hamilton bust of Napoleon was illustrated in the 1882 Hamilton Palace sale catalogue (see the old photograph on the left) and was sold to J B Greenshields of Kerse, Lanarkshire, for 640.10s.

There are a number of similar busts of Napoleon, but the Hamilton bust seems to be the one now in the Thorvaldsen Museum, Copenhagen (centre), which was apparently bought at Sotheby's in August 1916 by M Bacri of Paris. The claim made by Auckland Art Gallery, New Zealand, that their bust (right) is the Hamilton Palace piece can be dismissed. The eagle's feathers and top of the base of their example clearly do not match the bust reproduced in the 1882 sale catalogue.

 
                 
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  [ related links ]              
  Click for further informationEmperor Napoleon in his Study        
                 
    Click for further informationDouble salt from the tea service   Click for further informationSugar bowl from the tea service   Click for further informationCutlery from the tea service  
                 
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