Louis-Simon Boizot, directeur de sculpture at Sèvres 1773-1809
Tamara Préaud suggests that the present model is likely that modelled by Simon-Louis Boizot in Germinal, year VI (April 1798). When researching another example of the bust sold at Sotheby's New York 11 October 1995, lot 314, she came across a letter in the factory archive addressed to the director of the Sèvres factory from the Minister of the Interior and dated Le 15 Germinal l'an VI. In it, the minister describes in glowing terms the example he has just received. His letter reads in translation:
"I have received, citizens, the bust of General Buonaparte, which you have made in biscuit porcelain after the model by citizen Boizot, chief artist at the factory.
It belongs, without doubt, to a national establishment, the first of its kind in Europe, to reproduce in such a useful and attractive manner the features of a citizen who has rendered such great service to the Republic, and who the Directorate honors with all of its confidence.
I cannot tell you how greatly satisfied I am with the attention and zeal you have applied to this project. This bust honors the talents of citizen Boizot, and I find that the resemblance [to Napoleon himself] adds additional merit..."
Factory records note the first busts of this model as having been sold in Floréal, year VI (April-May 1798), with 53 finding buyersbefore Messidor, year VIII (June 1800), at which time the portrait was reworked to present Napoléon as First Consul. The gilt inscription on the present example points to its being one of the first examples executed.
Cf. Émile Bourgeois and Georges Lechevallier-Chevignard, Le biscuit de Sèvres, Paris, 1780-1800, pl. 45, fig. 115; Émile Borgeois and Maurice Savreux, Le Biscuit de Sèvres Directoire Consulat et Ier Empire, Paris, pl. 1 and Marcelle Brunet and Tamara Préaud, Sèvres, des origines á nos jours, Paris, 1978, p. 305, fig. 432