|After the fall of the Second Empire and the exile of his parents, Napoléon Eugène Louis Bonaparte, the Prince Imperial, had dreams of returning to France as Napoléon IV and with his family’s traditional link to the military in mind, he enrolled as a cadet at Woolwich. He was eager to join the British Army but this was not permitted since he was a foreign national. However, through the influence of his mother and Queen Victoria he was eventually allowed to go to South Africa as an observer at the time of the Anglo-Zulu War of 1879. Not long after his arrival there he went out riding in a small party to map an area that was thought to be cleared of Zulus. As the small party approached some huts at Itshotshozi, it was ambushed by about forty Zulu warriors. The Europeans leapt into their saddles and made off but Prince Louis's pommel snapped. He was unable to escape and, realising his cause was hopeless, he turned to fight and was killed. His body was returned to Britain and, dressed in a British army uniform, he was buried, first at Chislehurst, then later at St Michael's Abbey, the family mausoleum that the Empress Eugénie commissioned at Farnborough.
Photographed by the London Stereoscopic and Photographic Company.
This portrait of the Prince Imperial has been signed in ink by the sitter recto in the lower margin. The printed caption gives the date, 16 March 1874, the Prince’s eighteenth birthday. The Prince Imperial had a number of these produced, which he signed and distributed to his close friends and attendants to mark the occasion of his birthday.
condition: The print shows a few tiny white marks, the most noticeable of which is in the area of the sitter’s hair. It is otherwise in excellent condition, with rich satisfying tones. The mount has discoloured a little with age in places but is otherwise clean, firm and solid, with crisp edges and sharp corners.
|Back to list...