Emile-Jean-Horace VERNET (Paris 1789 - Paris 1863)

Portrait of General Jean Rabusson, Baron d’Empire Sold

Black chalk, stumped, with touches of red and white chalk.
Signed with initials H.V. at the lower right.
Inscribed Maréchal-de-Camp du cadre d’activité d’ Etat-major Général – M. Le Baron Rabusson at the lower left edge, and M. Le Baron Rabusson, Maréchal de Camp – (Général de Brigade) / (sous Louis-Philippe) on the verso.
Further inscribed Portrait du général Rabusson / Dessiné par Horace Vernet on a label attached to the backing board, and Maréchal-de-Camp du cadre d’activité d’Etat-major-général, / M. Le Baron Rabusson, / chevalier de St. Louis, Commandeur de la Legion d’Hr. / 1832 / Dessin Original d’Horace Vernet. / (1789+1863) on another label attached to the backing board.
343 x 285 mm. (13 1/2 x 11 1/4 in.) [sheet]
259 x 207 mm. (10 1/4 x 8 1/8 in.) [image]


The sitter of this fine portrait drawing, Baron Jean Rabusson (1774-1848), was related by marriage to the artist, having in 1810 married Nicole-Catherine-Henriette Pujol, the sister of Horace Vernet’s wife, Louise. Rabusson enlisted in the army in 1793, was appointed a 'chef d’escadron' in 1811 and a colonel in 1815, and had risen to the rank of divisional commandant by 1830. He was created a Baron d’Empire in 1813.

Rabusson earns a brief anecdotal mention in an account of life at the court of Napoleon as recorded in the memoirs of Georgette Ducrest, a lady in the retinue of the Empress Josephine. In her 'Mémoires sur l'impératrice Joséphine, ses contemporains, la cour de Navarre et de Malmaison', first published in 1828, Ducrest writes that ‘M. Rabusson, the brother-in-law of Horace Vernet, owed, it is said, to a happy instance of presence of mind, the advancement which he obtained in the army. He held the rank of second lieutenant, in what particular corps I do not know. During a review the Emperor let his hat fall near M. Rabusson, who immediately picked it up. “Thank you, captain,” said Napoleon, not having observed the rank of the officer to whom he addressed himself. “In what regiment, Sire?” inquired Rabusson. “Oh!...in my guard,” replied the Emperor, smiling at his own mistake and the coolness of his interlocutor. He asked his name, and learned that he was a brave officer, who by several gallant actions had merited the cross. From that time the Emperor kept an eye upon him, gave him opportunities of honourably distinguishing himself, and successively conferred upon him various rewards.’

Vernet is known to have painted a portrait of Rabusson; the painting was still in the possession of the sitter’s descendants in 1972. A watercolour portrait of Rabusson by Paul Delaroche is also recorded.

Emile-Jean-Horace VERNET

Portrait of General Jean Rabusson, Baron d’Empire


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