Caroline Bonaparte Murat created an identity for herself through the art that she collected during the time of her reign as queen of Naples as directed by her brother, Napoleon, from 1808-1814. Through the art that she both commissioned and purchased, she developed an identity as powerful politically, nurturing, educated, fashionable, and Italianate. Through this patronage, Caroline became influential on stylish, female patronage in both Italy and France. Caroline purchased and commissioned works from artists such as Jean-August-Domonique Ingres, François Gérard, Elizabeth Vigée LeBrun, Antonio Canova and other lesser-known artists of the nineteenth century. Many of these works varied in style and content, but all helped in creating an ideal identity for Caroline. In all of the works she is portrayed as a powerful woman. She is either powerful by her settings (in the drawing room, or with Vesuvius in the background), her vast knowledge in the arts and fashion, her motherhood, her sensuality, or the way in which she is positioned and how she is staring back at the viewer within the works. The creation of this identity was uniquely Caroline's, mimicking Marie de Medici, Marie Antoinette and Josephine and Napoleon Bonaparte, while adding her own tastes and agendas to the creation. Through this identity she proved herself to be as equally French as Italianate through dress and surroundings. She even created a hybrid of fashion, wedding the styles together, by adding black velvet and lace to a simple empire-waisted silhouette. Caroline proved herself as politician, mother, educated and refined woman, pioneer in fashion, and Queen through the art that she purchased and commissioned.



College and Department

Fine Arts and Communications; Visual Arts



Date Submitted


Document Type





Napoleonic France or Italy, female patronage, Caroline Bonaparte Murat, nineteenth century art



Included in

Art Practice Commons