Scented Image: The Secret of Caporal Violette





Here's the image I mentioned in my review of Violetta di Parma below.

This is a picture of a bouquet of violettes which has a secret meaning. If you look at the picture attentively, you will soon see three profiles appearing in the midst of the bouquet; they represent Marie Louise (Maria Luigia), Napoleon, and Charles, the King of Rome at three years old...


Violets were popular flowers, but in this case they came to symbolise the Bonapartist cause. Violets were brandished as political symbols of support for the return of Napoleon to the throne and later, for the return of a member of its family to government. Up until 1874, it was subjected to government regulations of its image for this very reason.

This picture is based on an engraving by Canu from 1815 and was called "caporal violette" as it constituted a not so secret allusion to Bonaparte who had been a corporal and had sported violets after the capitulation of Paris to symbolise his planned comeback. He assured his supporters that he would be back by the time that the violets would bloom, that is, in the spring (in March usually). His supporters would be in the habit of toasting him, holding their glasses to caporal violette.

It takes a little while to distinguish the three profiles; the hardest part for me was to find the King of Rome! 

Please click on the thumbnail. 

Photo and info are from 

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