Marie-Josèphe-Rose Tascher de La Pagerie, called Joséphine (1763-1814) married Vicomte Alexandre de Beauharnais in 1779. They had two children, Eugène and Hortense. During the French Revolution, her husband was guillotined and Joséphine herself imprisoned. After her liberation, she married General Napoléon Bonaparte in 1796. In 1809, Napoléon, meanwhile Emperor and desperate for a heir, divorced her and married Archduchess Marie-Louise of Austria in 1810. Joséphine was richly compensated and kept her title of Empress.
The Geneva miniaturist Bouvier was very friendly with Joséphine (see E. della Santa, Florilège de la Famille Bouvier, Geneva, 1987, I, p. XXII-3) and painted her several times. The following portraits of the Empress by Bouvier are recorded: An oval enamel miniature dated 1812 (at the Malmaison, see E. della Santa, Pierre-Louis Bouvier - Album, Nyon, 1978, pl. XIII), a larger circular version of the present miniature, signed and dated Geneva 1812 (sold in our Geneva rooms, 25 May 1993, lot 144) with its replica in the Louvre (see P. Jean-Richard, Miniatures sur ivoire. Musée du Louvre. Musée d'Orsay, Paris, 1994, no. 72) and a small rectangular oil painting (sold Etude Odent-Fraisse, Tours, 18 March 1990, lot 26).