Collections > Electronic Theses and Dissertations > A revolutionary empress in the age of Napoleon: Marie-Louise, Archduchess of Austria, Empress of the French, and Duchess of Parma, Piacenza, and Guastalla (1791-1847)

This dissertation analyzes representations of Marie-Louise, second wife to Napoleon Bonaparte and Empress of the French. I argue that visual images of Marie-Louise not only reflected and shaped women's changing positions in politics and society under Napoleon's regime but also underlined her unique position in European politics. Against the backdrop of the volatile political climate and rise of nationalism, I pose Marie-Louise as a transnational figure who navigated multiple aristocratic positions in nineteenth-century Europe, serving as Archduchess of Austria (1791-1810), Empress of the French (1810-15), and Duchess of Parma, Piacenza, and Guastalla (1815-47). My project considers images by well-known artists, François Gérard and Antoine-Jean Gros, as well as those less familiar, such as Pauline Auzou, who all carefully fashioned the empress within a centuries-old visual genealogy of queenship while emphasizing her national and dynastic ties. My investigation analyzes art objects as participating in changing definitions of national identity, contemporaneous political discourses, and roles of aristocratic women. This project reclaims Marie-Louise for nineteenth-century art history, while simultaneously offering a re-evaluation of Napoleonic commissions.