This image is just a little bit of whimsy I created this past fall to express my belief in the power of reading:
Tag Archives: art
I mentioned the other day that art was what kept me going doing a period when I almost gave up my writing. I’m grateful to my art teacher Richard Halstead for helping me keep that creative spark alive and also for one other thing. The portrait of Betsy on the cover of my novel is my own work. I created it by working from a couple of the existing portraits painted during her lifetime.
There is also a third reason that my art is important to me. Because I’m a freelance educational writer as well as a novelist, I used my verbal skills all the time. Sometimes that part of my brain just needs a rest. A couple of weeks ago, I deliberately took a couple of hours to work on a drawing just to find a little balance. It’s not much more than a sketch, but here it is:
Betsy was often told that she looked like her sister-in-law Pauline Bonaparte, shown above in one of her revealing gowns. Pauline, however, had a much more scandalous reputation than Betsy.
As a young woman, Pauline fell in love with Louis-Marie Stanislas Fréron, the proconsul of Marseille, but her mother objected to the match. Napoleon then married off his fifteen-year-old sister to one of his officers, General Charles Leclerc. However, Pauline couldn’t be happy with any man for long. She had a voracious sexual appetite (a trait that several of the Bonapartes shared). While she and LeClerc were stationed in Saint-Dominque, she took several lovers—despite the fact that she was plagued with illness. Pauline had an exasperating personality: arrogant, willful, capricious, narcissistic, and promiscuous.
After LeClerc died of yellow fever, Pauline returned to France. Defying Napoleon’s opinion about the proper mourning period, she married again within a year to Prince Camilo Borghese. They lived in Italy. Pauline quickly grew bored with him and continued behaving as riotously as before. They say that one of her lovers was the violinist Paganini. Other rumors say that she suffered from sexually transmitted diseases. While in Italy, Pauline posed semi-nude for the sculptor Canova, who created a famous statue of Pauline as a reclining Venus.
Pauline had only one child, a boy named Dermide, fathered by her first husband. Dermide died when he was six, and Pauline—true to her volatile nature—kept promising to make various nephews her heir and then changing her mind and rescinding the offers. In one area of her life, however, she did remain loyal. She stood by her brother Napoleon and was the only one of his siblings to visit him in his first exile on Elba.
Cancer was the scourge of the Bonaparte family, and Pauline was no exception. She died of the disease at the age of 44.