Empress Eugénie and the Arts

Politics and Visual Culture in the Nineteenth Century

By Alison McQueen

© 2011 – Routledge

368 pages

Purchasing Options:
Hardback: 9781409405856
pub: 2011-08-11

About the Book

Reconstructing Empress Eugénie's position as a private collector and a public patron of a broad range of media, this study is the first to examine Eugénie (1826-1920), whose patronage of the arts has been overlooked even by her many biographers. The empress's patronage and collecting is considered within the context of her political roles in the development of France's institutions and international relations. Empress Eugénie and the Arts: Politics and Visual Culture in the Nineteenth Century also examines representations of the empress, and the artistic transformation of a Hispanic woman into a leading figure in French politics. Based on extensive research at architectural sites and in archives, museums, and libraries throughout Europe, and in Britain and the United States, this book offers in-depth analysis of many works that have never before received scholarly attention - including reconstruction and analysis of Eugénie's apartment at the Tuileries. From her self-definition as empress through her collections, to her later days in exile in England, art was integral to Eugénie's social and political position.


Winner of a Fondation Napoléon History Prize for 2011. 'The Empress Eugénie has found an able advocate in Alison McQueen, who places her squarely within the lineage of rulers and consorts of the modern period. As a result of her extensive research in previously unexplored sources and documents, McQueen has given us the first complete picture of Eugénie’s important role in the worlds of art and politics.' Patricia Mainardi, Graduate Center, City University of New York, USA 'Professor McQueen's important and highly readable book provides a necessary corrective to the views commonly held about Eugénie and her place in history. The close analysis of images reinforces the text which, thanks to Professor McQueen's thorough research, uses many previously untapped sources.' William H.C. Smith, University of London 'Empress Eugénie, wife of Napoléon III, was an essential participant in the history of France through her role in the arts. In this well-documented study of her buildings, her collections, and her patronage, Alison McQueen restores this controversial figure to her rightful place and makes us revisit a whole side of nineteenth-century French art that has been neglected by historians.' Michel Melot, Former Director of the Département des estampes et de la photographie, Bibliothèque nationale de France 'McQueen’s mission and accomplishment in this assiduously researched book is to reconstruct Empress Eugénie’s position as private collector and public patron during the 18 years of the Second Empire in which she reigned beside her husband. McQueen has taken the subject and shaken it hard and interestingly, to reveal new truths about Empress Eugénie; and her book is a valuable contribution to the bookshelf.' Cassone '… McQueen has produced a valuable, readable, jargon-free text that will be appreciated by scholars of French history, art history, women’s studies and many other fields. With the publication of McQueen’s book, Eugénie has regaine

Table of Contents

Contents: Introduction; Shaping a nation-state: the politics of piety, charity and education; Imperial identities: the 'ornament of the throne'; Collecting an imperial persona: collecting practices and intimate spaces; International diplomacy and transnationalism; Family, memory and dynastic nostalgia; Epilogue; Bibliography; Index.

About the Author

Alison McQueen is Professor of Art History at McMaster University. She is author of The Rise of the Cult of Rembrandt: Reinventing an Old Master in Nineteenth-Century France (2003).

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
ART / Collections, Catalogs, Exhibitions / General