During the twelve years of Napoleon's Empire (1804-1815), François Gérard proved himself the favorite portraitist of the court, painting almost every member of Napoleon's extended family, as well as many of the friends, associates and retainers who enjoyed Imperial favor. His output in these years includes nearly fifty full-length portraits and eighty half-length or en buste.
Dubois was the doctor who served the Empress Marie-Louise in March 1811 when she gave birth to her son with Napoleon, the King of Rome. Gérard painted two versions of the portrait in 1811-1812 (he regularly produced two or more versions of his successful portraits), one of which remained with Gérard's own family and was eventually donated to the Musée Baron Gérard in Bayeux, and the present version which passed by descent through the heirs of Dr. Dubois. Without a direct comparison between the two versions, it is impossible to know which was painted first, which second, though both would have been executed in quick succession; Gérard's hand-written manuscript list of his works notes only that he executed two versions of the portrait. The popularity of the original is attested to by the numerous copies of it in the reserves of French museums.
We are grateful to Alain Latreille for confirming the attribution to Gérard, and assisting with the preparation of this note.