Napoleon I, by Vital Dubray

Napoléon Ier. Vital Dubray (1813-1892). Pedestal by the local architect Louis Desmarest (1814-82). Inaugurated 15 August 1865 (see Barbet). In front of the Hôtel de Ville, Rouen. Photographs and text by Jacqueline Banerjee. You can use these images without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the photographer and (2) link your document to this URL in a web document or cite the Victorian Web in a print one. [Click on the images to enlarge them.]

Napoleon I, whole monument

Napoleon was celebrated in the inaugural speech here as a symbol of the French spirit, finding faithful followers among his compatriots both in his glory and in his defeat ("dans sa gloire comme dans ses revers, Napoléon a trouvé chez nous des coeurs fidèles"). Dubray was the ideal sculptor for such a subject, and there were no complaints in France, as there were apt to be in England, about a horse looking too dynamic for the dignity of its rider. This contrasts with the situation in which Baron Marochetti found himself in Glasgow, where he was forced to bring the previously raised hind leg of Queen Victoria's horse down to the plinth. Of course, Napoleon was meant to have a more heroic and defiant bearing, and his horse would need to complement his own fieriness, as indeed this one does.

This is one of the best-known works of Dubray, who was described in an article in the Art-Journal of 1869, rather quaintly entitled, "Art in Continental States," as "a French sculptor of celebrity ... whose works adorn many of the cities and towns of France" (76).

Related Material


Art-Journal, Vol. 8 (1869). Google Books. Free e-Book. Web. 15 July 2014.

Barbet, M. Henry. "Inauguration à Rouen de la Statue Équestre de Napoléon Ier: Discours." Gallica. Web. 15 July 2014.

"Louis-François Desmarest, architecte rouennais (1814-1882)" Amis des Monuments Rouennais. Web. 15 July 2014.

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Last modified 15 July 2014