Att. Gilbert Newton: Portrait Of A Little Boy, Provenance

Att. Gilbert Newton: Portrait Of A Little Boy, Provenance

Code: 10082


H: 34.5cm (13.6")W: 28cm (11")D: 1cm (0.4")


This portrait of a boy is a little gem, with beautiful provenance and possibly historical significance.

According to inscriptions to the verso, it is a portrait of Napoleon's son, Napoleon II, called l'Aiglon ("the eaglet"), as a young boy, painted circa 1816-17. I am showing with this listing a portrait of a slightly older Napoleon II, by Thomas Laurence, for reference. I think there is some resemblance, particularly the mouth.

Our oil on panel comes from the collection of Emile Brouwet, specialist of Napoleon and all things napoleonic, and founder or the Muse Napolon in the town of Digne-les-Bains. The major part of the Brouwet collection was dispersed at public auction in the 1930s, at the Paris Hotel Drouot and at Sothebys. We acquired it an auction where a number of artworks and documentation from the Brouwet collection were sold.

The painting is annotated "Roi de Rome" on the verso, the King of Rome being one of the Prince Imperial's titles. Unsigned, the back of the panel also bears an attribution to the artist Gilbert Stuart Newton RA (1795 1835).

Newton was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia, the twelfth child and youngest son of Henry Newton, a customs official, and Ann, his wife, daughter of Gilbert Stuart, snuff manufacturer at Boston, Massachusetts, of Scottish descent, and sister to Gilbert Stuart the portrait painter. His parents left Boston in 1776 as the British withdrew; but on the death of his father in 1803 his mother returned with her family to Charleston, near Boston.

Newton was intended for a commercial career, but was taken on as a pupil by his uncle, Gilbert Stuart. Newton came to Europe with an elder brother, and studied painting at Florence. In 1817 he visited Paris on his way to England and there met Charles Robert Leslie, as well as Washington Allston and David Wilkie. After visiting the Netherlands Newton went with Leslie to London, and entered as a student at the Royal Academy.

The painting is unsigned, however. An unevenly shaped oval with slightly ragged edges, the panel might have been reduced in size, possibly obliterating a signature. The dimensions of the oval panel measured without the frame are 27 x 23 xm. The overall framed size is 34.5 x 28 cm.