France likely: M. Silvestre, 19th Century. M. Silvestre. Fine copy of an original: framed & glazed. Decorative brass frame. Very handsome, well executed 19th Century miniature portrait of Napoleon painted in watercolors on ivory (or possibly porcelain) and signed vertically by "M. Silvestre" on the lower right hand side. Frame: 4 1/4" H x 3 3/8" W x 3/8" D; image visble: 3 3/8" H x 2 1/2" W). Near Fine / Very Good. Item #7586
Young Napoleon proudly wears the green uniform of the National Guard with colonel's epaulettes and displays his medals: The Cross (five branched) and Grand Eagle Orders of the Legion of Honor. These awards were created by Napoleon in 1803 as his highest award (usually for bravery).
The gilt brass frame with a tan embroidered cloth backing has not been opened by us to further inspect the painting.
We have identified a highly comparable watercolor miniature of Marie Antoinette painted on ivory and signed as "Silvestre" in a signature identical to that of our work. There are a few early 19th century Silvestre's known for fine painting, though we have not been able to more narrowly identify our painter.
See "medals worn by Napoleon I," Wikpedia. For other comps, see Gerard Gengembre, Napoleon: The Immortal Emperor, p.176; cp. p.222; compare Proudon's portrait and its medals, p.428.
Our Napoleon also bears a resemblance--though our man is shown as facially somewhat thinner--to the top half of Jacques-Louis David's famous portrait of Napoleon in his Study at the Tuileries, 1812. David's painting portrays Napoleon's uniform with black sleeves with red cuffs (see Gerard Gengembre, Napoleon: The Immortal Emperor, p.78; Proctor Patterson Jones, Napoleon: an Intimate Account of the Years of Supremacy, 1800-1814, p.vi).
Silvestre's painting also compares rather closely to the portrait of Napoleon in Uniform, oil on canvas, by Gérard Francois Pascal, The Bridgeman Art Library. Painted when First Consul in 1803, his forelock by Gerard is cut short in the manner of Titus and lies down somewhat on his brow; also in this comp, Napoleon's face is painted more frontally.
Our image compares even more closely to the miniature on ivory created by Jean Desiré Muneret (French artist who worked for Isabey; born 1782 -- died after 1820) of l’Empereur Napoléon Ier en uniforme de grenadier de la Garde,' which he originally executed in 1810. It depicts Napoleon with a somewhat fuller face wearing the black and white uniform of a colonel of the National Guard.
The image was engraved in 1812; then reproduced by Muneret in watercolors, signed and dated 1815, as a patriotic image during Napoleon's "Hundred Days." [See Napoleon: The Immortal Emperor, p.220 for the actual National Guard uniform he often wore. See, in particular, Boris Wilnitsky's web entry 41589.].