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Charlotte Bonaparte

Painting of Charlotte Bonaparte and her sister Zénaïde.

The Sisters Zénaïde and Charlotte Bonaparte, Jacques-Louis David (1821) Oil on canvas Image courtesy of the J. Paul Getty Museum’s Open Content Program

Niece of the famous French commander Napoleon, Charlotte Bonaparte (1802-1839), and her family were forced to flee their homeland in 1817 as a result of military strife.

They settled at Point Breeze, a 1,000-acre estate in Bordentown located on the Delaware River. Prior to her exile, Bonaparte held the titles of Princess of France and Infanta of Spain. Unlike most American girls her age, Bonaparte was educated by private tutors and artists. While on exile in Brussels, before coming to America, Jacques Louis David trained Bonaparte. During her time in the United States, she sketched and painted early 19th century New Jersey scenes and landscapes. Her style of art was mostly in a formal, romantic style and she worked  with carrying materials like sepia, crayon, oil, and watercolor.

In 1822, one of Bonaparte’s drawings was on display at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. The Academy exhibited ten of her drawings the following spring; the collection included landscapes, portraits, and flower studies


Charlotte Bonaparte, “View of Lebanon,” 1824.
Courtesy, Ferris Olin Collection.


Burstyn, Joan N. 1990. “Charlotte Bonaparte”. Past and Promise, Lives of New Jersey Women. http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/54470337

Kinne, Clarence E. 1939. Facts and traditions: relating to Joseph Bonaparte, Annette Savage, Charles Joseph Geelhand Delafoille, Caroline Charlotte Bonaparte Benton, Zebulon Howell Benton, the Benton family. [Watertown, N.Y.]: [C.E. Kinne]. http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/31442789  


Questions to Explore

What was Bonaparte’s style of art and how does it reflect the art movements of her time?

How did her earlier experience’s in France affect the way she lived in the United States?

What were Bonaparte’s drawings influenced by?

Additional Resources

Bonaparte, Charlotte. n.d. Princess Charlotte Bonaparte correspondence to an unidentified recipient, undated.