The Last Days of Napoléon by Vincenzo Vela

  • This exceptional sculpture by Swiss artist Vincenzo Vela is entitled Last Days of Napoléon
  • Crafted of bronze, the piece depicts Napoléon on his deathbed, contemplating what might have been
  • Vela captures Napoléon's still-defiant bearing, even in the throes of illness and defeat
  • The piece is a dramatic example of Vela’s celebrated realist aesthetic
  • Get complete item description here
Item No. 31-2545

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Vincenzo Vela
1820-1891 | Swiss

Last Days of Napoléon

Bronze on green marble base
Signed “V. Vela. F 1867” and "F. Barbedienne, Fondeur, Paris" (base)

This highly evocative bronze by Vincenzo Vela captures the deposed Emperor Napoléon on his deathbed, holding a map of Europe and lost in thought about what might have been. Remarkable among most portrayals of the exiled leader, this highly detailed sculpture depicts Napoléon at his most vulnerable. Nonetheless, Vela perfectly captures his still-heroic bearing, which imparts to this work a monumental quality and quiet dignity. The mate to this figure is the colossal marble at the Musée du Château de Malmaison, which was shown at the Paris Salon of 1867.

The founder of the verismo movement in Italy, Vela was one of the great exponents of realism in sculpture. Born in Ligornetto, Switzerland in 1820, he studied under celebrated sculptor, Benedetto Cacciatori. He was also influenced both by the work of Tuscan sculptor Lorenzo Bartolini, who seamlessly combined neoclassicism with naturalism and the romantic painting of Francesco Hayez. Vela soon became one of the most important promoters of realist and verist sculpture, which emphasized true-to-life depictions of subjects. This was a reaction to the more idealistic, classical aesthetic espoused by artists such as Canova.

Vela taught at the Albertina Academy in Turin for many years and showed his work at numerous Salons in Italy. His oeuvre is best remembered for its exploration of the social and heroic value of human action. A fervent patriot, he was active both politically and culturally and was elected to the Grand Council in Ticino. Today, many of Vela’s works are preserved in the Museo Vela at Ligornetto, and others can be found in Lugano, Bellinzona, Airolo, as well as Milan and Turin.

9" wide x 15" deep x 17" high
The Last Days of Napoléon by Vincenzo Vela
Maker: Vela, Vincenzo
Origin: Switzerland
Type: Sculpture
Depth: 15.0 Inches
Width: 9.0 Inches
Height: 17.0 Inches
Style: Realism
The Last Days of Napoléon by Vincenzo Vela
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