"A portrait is a picture in which there is just a tiny little something not quite right about the mouth." -- John Singer Sargent

Friday, August 12, 2016

Charles Joseph Bonaparte

This 1906-09 portrait of Charles Joseph Bonaparte by Cecile Smith de Wentworth hangs in the Maryland Historical Society Museum in Baltimore Maryland.
"Charles Joseph Bonaparte, (born June 9, 1851, Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.—died June 28, 1921, Baltimore) lawyer and grandson of Jérôme Bonaparte, youngest brother of Napoleon; he became one of President Theodore Roosevelt’s chief 'trust-busters' as U.S. attorney general.

After graduating from Harvard Law School (1872), Bonaparte began the practice of law in Baltimore in 1874. He was active in organizations advocating municipal and civil service reform, which gained him the admiration of Roosevelt, who was then a member of the U.S. Civil Service Commission. Upon Roosevelt’s accession to the presidency, Bonaparte served as secretary of the navy (1905–06) and as attorney general (1906–09). In the latter post he established the Federal Bureau of Investigation (originally the Bureau of Investigation) and prosecuted numerous antitrust suits, most notably that which resulted in the dissolution in 1911 of the American Tobacco Company." -- Encyclopedia Britannica
The label in an exhibit on his grandmother, Betsy Patterson Bonaparte, reads this way:
"Cecile de Wentworth painted this portrait of Charles Joseph Bonaparte between 1906 and 1909 when Charles was Attorney General of the United States under President Theodore Roosevelt. Wentworth was a highly acclaimed American portrait artist who worked primarily in France and painted many of the most prominent men of the early twentieth century, including Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft."-- Maryland Historical Society
An historical  marker in front of the Enoch Pratt Library shows this photo of Charles J. Bonaparte and a caption discussing his somewhat odd position on race relations.

 "Charles J. Bonaparte continuously fought for the rights of African Americans. While he was Attorney General, he expressed his underlying beliefs about race relations in America, 'Every race of people is driven to the woods or die out that comes in contact with the Caucasian race. The Negro race is the only one race on the globe that has lived, thriven, flourished and multiplied by the side of the Caucasian race. This one fact bespeaks volumes in the Negro's favor, and no eloquence can be stronger than that single fact to prove the Negro's greatness.'"

See Also:
The Portrait Gallery: Betsy Patterson Bonaparte

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