Portrait of Cécile Vitet, in Profile is an 1850 portrait oil on canvas painting in the Academic style by French artist and sculptor Jean-Léon Gérôme.
Cécile Vitet (nee Perier), also known as Cécile Bonaparte, was a prominent figure in French history during the early 19th century. She was born on December 22, 1777, in Lyon, France, into the influential Perier family. Cécile was the daughter of Claude Perier, a wealthy banker, and Françoise Perier.
In 1797, at the age of 19, Cécile married Jérôme Bonaparte, the younger brother of Napoleon Bonaparte, who would later become Emperor of the French. The marriage was arranged by Napoleon to solidify alliances within his family and enhance his political standing. Cécile and Jérôme had one child together, a son named Jérôme Napoléon Bonaparte.
The relationship between Cécile and Jérôme was turbulent, marked by frequent separations and infidelities. Despite their difficulties, Cécile’s loyalty to her husband and the Bonaparte family remained steadfast. She accompanied Jérôme during his political appointments, including his tenure as King of Westphalia from 1807 to 1813.
After Napoleon’s defeat and the fall of the French Empire, Jérôme and Cécile went into exile. They lived in various locations, including the United States and Italy, before eventually settling in Trieste, then part of the Austrian Empire. During this period, Cécile dedicated herself to raising their son and managing the family’s affairs.
Cécile’s marriage to Jérôme was annulled in 1807 by Napoleon due to political considerations. Following the annulment, Cécile retained her title of Princess of Würzburg and later Princess of Montfort. After Jérôme’s death in 1860, Cécile lived a more private life in Trieste, where she died on January 16, 1845.
Cécile Perier, through her marriage to Jérôme Bonaparte, was part of the extended Bonaparte family and played a role in the political and social circles of the time. Her life reflects the complexities and intrigues of the Napoleonic era and provides insights into the experiences of individuals connected to one of history’s most influential families.