The J. Paul Getty Museum

[Napoleon III and the Prince Imperial]

Object Details


[Napoleon III and the Prince Imperial]


Pierre Louis Pierson (French, 1822 - 1913)




about 1859


Albumen silver print from a wet collodion glass negative

Object Number:



21 × 16 cm (8 1/4 × 6 5/16 in.)

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Object Description

The Prince Imperial, son of Napoleon III, sits strapped securely into a seat on his horse's back, a model subject for the camera. An attendant at the left steadies the horse so that the little prince remains picture-perfect in the center of the backdrop erected for the photograph. The horse stands upon a rug that serves as a formalizing element, making the scene appear more regal. The Emperor Napoleon III himself stands off to the right in perfect profile, supervising the scene with his dog and forming a framing mirror-image of the horse and attendant on the other side.

Pierre-Louis Pierson placed his camera far enough back from the Prince to capture the entire scene and all the players, but this was not the version sold as a popular carte-de-visite. The carte-de-visite image was cropped so that only the Prince upon his horse was visible.

- 1984

Samuel Wagstaff, Jr., American, 1921 - 1987, sold to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1984.

The Flowering of Early French Photography, 1840-1870 (April 28 to June 28, 1987)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum (Malibu), April 28 to June 28, 1987
The Flowering of Early French Photography: Selections from the J. Paul Getty Museum Collection (December 20, 1988 to May 7, 1989)
  • The Baltimore Museum of Art (Baltimore), December 20, 1988 to February 12, 1989
  • Toledo Museum of Art (Toledo), March 11 to May 7, 1989
Arrows of Time: Photographs from the J. Paul Getty Museum (January 24 to April 2, 1995)
  • Armand Hammer Museum of Art and Cultural Center at UCLA (Los Angeles), January 24 to April 2, 1995
Useful, sweet and alike a museum: Animals looking at us (October 21, 2005 to January 15, 2006)
  • Museum Folkwang (Essen), October 21, 2005 to January 15, 2006
The Thrill of the Chase: The Wagstaff Collection of Photographs at the J. Paul Getty Museum (March 15, 2016 to May 7, 2017)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), March 15 to July 31, 2016
  • Wadsworth Atheneum (Hartford), September 10 to December 11, 2016
  • Portland Museum of Art (Portland), February 13 to May 7, 2017

Galassi, Peter. In the Studio: Photographs. (New York: Gagosian Gallery, 2015), p. 19.

Corcoran Gallery of Art. A Book of Photographs from the Collection of Sam Wagstaff. (New York: Gray Press, 1978), p. 42.

Martineau, Paul. The Thrill of the Chase: the Wagstaff collection of photographs at the J. Paul Getty Museum. (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2016), p. 79, pl. 29.