François Carlo Antommarchi

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Dr François Carlo Antommarchi
Dr François Carlo Antommarchi
Born(1780-07-05)5 July 1780
Morsiglia, Corsica, Kingdom of Great Britain
Died3 April 1838(1838-04-03) (aged 57)
Santiago de Cuba, Cuba
Occupation Doctor of Medicine/Surgeon
Parent(s)Juan Antommarchi and Bidgetta Matey

François Carlo Antommarchi (5 July 1780 in Morsiglia, Corsica – 4 March 1838 in Santiago de Cuba, Cuba) was Napoleon's physician from 1818 to his death in 1821.

Morsiglia Commune in Corsica, France

Morsiglia is a commune in the Haute-Corse department of France on the island of Corsica.

Santiago de Cuba City in Cuba

Santiago de Cuba is the second-largest city in Cuba and the capital city of Santiago de Cuba Province. It lies in the southeastern area of the island, some 870 km (540 mi) southeast of the Cuban capital of Havana.

Napoleon 18th/19th-century French monarch, military and political leader

Napoléon Bonaparte was a French statesman and military leader who rose to prominence during the French Revolution and led several successful campaigns during the French Revolutionary Wars. He was Emperor of the French as Napoleon I from 1804 until 1814 and again briefly in 1815 during the Hundred Days. Napoleon dominated European and global affairs for more than a decade while leading France against a series of coalitions in the Napoleonic Wars. He won most of these wars and the vast majority of his battles, building a large empire that ruled over much of continental Europe before its final collapse in 1815. He is considered one of the greatest commanders in history, and his wars and campaigns are studied at military schools worldwide. Napoleon's political and cultural legacy has endured as one of the most celebrated and controversial leaders in human history.


He began his studies in Livorno, Italy, and later earned the degree of Doctor of Philosophy and Medicine at the University of Pisa in March 1808. Antommarchi then went to Florence, Italy, and was attached to the Hospital of Santa Maria Nuova. [nb 1] Antommarchi earned the diploma of Surgeon in 1812 from the University of Florence (i.e. Imperial University) and was appointed by its president as Prosector. While in this capacity, Antommarchi worked under Paolo Mascagni (1752–1815) [1] starting on 7 July 1813.

Livorno Comune in Tuscany, Italy

Livorno is a port city on the Ligurian Sea on the western coast of Tuscany, Italy. It is the capital of the Province of Livorno, having a population of 158,493 residents in December 2017. It has traditionally been known in English as Leghorn.

University of Pisa Italian public research university located in Pisa

The University of Pisa is an Italian public research university located in Pisa, Italy. It was founded in 1343 by an edict of Pope Clement VI. It is the 19th oldest extant university in the world and the 10th oldest in Italy. The university is ranked within the top 10 nationally and the top 400 in the world according to the ARWU and the QS. It houses the Orto botanico di Pisa, Europe's oldest academic botanical garden, which was founded in 1544.

Florence Comune in Tuscany, Italy

Florence is the capital city of the Italian region of Tuscany. It is the most populous city in Tuscany, with 383,084 inhabitants in 2013, and over 1,520,000 in its metropolitan area.

Antommarchi left Florence for Saint Helena to become Napoleon I's physician until his death. Antommarchi took up this position at the behest of Napoleon's mother Maria Letizia Ramolino and his uncle Cardinal Joseph Fesch. [2] Antommarchi received a letter of employment on 19 December 1818. Antommarchi was sent to St. Helena in replacement of Dr Barry Edward O'Meara as Napoleon's personal physician, because the illustrious captive would not agree to accept medical officers such as Dr Alexander Baxter or Dr James Roch Verling, who were proposed to him by his custodian Sir Hudson Lowe. However, Napoleon was not so impressed by Antommarchi's medical skills and even dismissed him from his service a couple of times, only to let him resume his duty soon after. In the last moments of illness, Antommarchi was assisted by Dr Archibald Arnott, who was accepted by Napoleon at the pressing demands from his two officers, Count Montholon and Grand-Marshal Bertrand. [3] After Napoleon's death, Antommarchi wrote The Last Moments of Napoleon where he concluded that Napoleon died of stomach cancer.

Saint Helena island in the South Atlantic Ocean

Saint Helena is a volcanic tropical island in the South Atlantic Ocean, 4,000 kilometres (2,500 mi) east of Rio de Janeiro and 1,950 kilometres (1,210 mi) west of the mouth of the Cunene River, which marks the border between Namibia and Angola in southwestern Africa. It is part of the British Overseas Territory of Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha. Saint Helena measures about 16 by 8 kilometres and has a population of 4,534. It was named after Saint Helena of Constantinople.

Letizia Ramolino Mother of Napolean

Nob.Maria Letizia BuonapartenéeRamolino was an Italian noblewoman, mother of Napoleon I of France.

Joseph Fesch French cardinal, diplomat, and Prince of France

Joseph Fesch, Prince of France was a French cardinal and diplomat, Prince of France and a member of the Imperial House of the First French Empire, Peer of France, Roman Prince, and the uncle of Napoleon Bonaparte. He was also one of the most famous art collectors of his period, remembered for having established the Musée Fesch in Ajaccio, which remains one of the most important Napoleonic collections of art.

In 1831 Antommarchi went to Poland and became the general inspector of Polish hospitals during November Uprising [4] where he assisted the Polish people in an uprising against the Russians. He fled to Paris to escape the czar's forces.

November Uprising Polish uprising against occupying Russian Empire in 1830-1831

The November Uprising (1830–31), also known as the Polish–Russian War 1830–31 or the Cadet Revolution, was an armed rebellion in the heartland of partitioned Poland against the Russian Empire. The uprising began on 29 November 1830 in Warsaw when the young Polish officers from the local Army of the Congress Poland's military academy revolted, led by lieutenant Piotr Wysocki. They were soon joined by large segments of societies of Lithuania, Belarus, and the Right-bank Ukraine. Despite local successes, the uprising was eventually crushed by a numerically superior Imperial Russian Army under Ivan Paskevich. Tsar Nicholas I decreed that henceforth Poland was an integral part of Russia, with Warsaw little more than a military garrison, its university closed.

Antommarchi then immigrated to Louisiana where he donated the bronze death mask of Napoleon to the people of New Orleans in 1834. Antommarchi lived in Veracruz, Mexico, for a brief period, and was employed there as an itinerant physician. He moved from Mexico and settled in Santiago de Cuba, Cuba, where he again worked as a physician. The move to Cuba was prompted by Antommarchi seeking his cousin Antonio Juan Benjamin Antommarchi, [5] who made his fortune in coffee plantations. Antommarchi became adept at performing surgery for the removal of cataracts. He died in Cuba, of yellow fever, on 3 April 1838, at the age of 57. [6]

Louisiana State of the United States of America

Louisiana is a state in the Deep South region of the South Central United States. It is the 31st most extensive and the 25th most populous of the 50 United States. Louisiana is bordered by the state of Texas to the west, Arkansas to the north, Mississippi to the east, and the Gulf of Mexico to the south. A large part of its eastern boundary is demarcated by the Mississippi River. Louisiana is the only U.S. state with political subdivisions termed parishes, which are equivalent to counties. The state's capital is Baton Rouge, and its largest city is New Orleans.

New Orleans Largest city in Louisiana

New Orleans is a consolidated city-parish located along the Mississippi River in the southeastern region of the U.S. state of Louisiana. With an estimated population of 393,292 in 2017, it is the most populous city in Louisiana. A major port, New Orleans is considered an economic and commercial hub for the broader Gulf Coast region of the United States.

Veracruz State of Mexico

Veracruz, formally Veracruz de Ignacio de la Llave, officially the Free and Sovereign State of Veracruz de Ignacio de la Llave, is one of the 31 states that, along with the Federal District, comprise the 32 federative entities of Mexico. It is divided in 212 municipalities and its capital city is Xalapa-Enríquez.

Life chronology

Birth Morsiglia, Corsica, France5 July 1780
Earned Doctor of Philosophy and Medicine Degree Pisa, ItalyMarch 1808
Earned Surgeon Diploma Florence, Italy1812
Became ProsectorFlorence, Italy7 July 1813
Became Napoleon I's physician Saint Helena, Corsica, France19 December 1818
Arrived in Saint Helena [6] Saint Helena, Corsica, France10 September 1819
Made Napoleon's Death Mask Saint Helena, Corsica, France7 May 1821
Published "Anatomical Prints of the Human Body with Natural Dimensions"Paris, France1823
Published various books based on his diary of Napoleon's medical care1823–1826
Became general inspector of Polish hospitalsPoland1831
Visited Louisiana Louisiana, United States1834
Visited Veracruz Veracruz, MexicoJune–July 1837 [7]
DeathSantiago de Cuba, Cuba3 April 1838


"Death of Napoleon", by Charles de Steuben, 1828. Dr Antommarchi is standing next to Napoleon with his hand on the pillow. NapoleonSteuben.jpg
"Death of Napoleon", by Charles de Steuben, 1828. Dr Antommarchi is standing next to Napoleon with his hand on the pillow.
Death Mask of Napoleon, front view Napoleon, masque face 05212.jpg
Death Mask of Napoleon, front view

Dissertation on cataract, 1808

This work is mentioned in The Memorial of Saint Helena by Emmanuel, comte de Las Cases. [8]

The Memorial of Saint Helena, written by Emmanuel-Auguste-Dieudonné Las Cases, is a journal-memoir of the beginning of Napoleon Bonaparte's exile on Saint Helena. The core of the work transcribes Las Cases' near-daily conversations with the former Emperor on his life, his career, his political philosophy, and the conditions of his exile. First published in 1823 after Napoleon's death, the work was an immediate and continuing literary success, receiving multiple translations and appearing in new editions throughout the 19th century and into the 20th. The work entered the popular imagination as something like Napoleon's own personal and political testament, and as such became a founding text in the development of the Napoleon cult and the ideology of Bonapartism.

Emmanuel, comte de Las Cases French politician, atlas-maker and author

Emmanuel-Augustin-Dieudonné-Joseph, comte de Las Cases was a French atlas-maker and author, famed for an admiring book about Napoleon, Le Mémorial de Sainte-Hélène.

Napoleon's Death Mask, 1821

On 7 May 1821 Antommarchi took a plaster cast of Napoleon's face. Numerous copies of this cast have been made and some can be seen at these locations:

Diary of Napoleon's Medical Care

Antommarchi's diary contained detail records of his medical care for Napoleon. This diary is a source for numerous books published between 1823 and 1826. These books have been published in many languages including French, English, German, Italian, and Spanish. [17] [18] [19] [20] [21] [22] [23] [24]

Anatomical Prints of the Human Body with Natural Dimensions, Paris, 1823

Paolo Mascagni (1752–1815) was the most celebrated anatomist of his day. Antommarchi became Prosector to Mascagni who left manuscripts and drawings for an intended publication of a comprehensive complete anatomy with life-size figures. Antommarchi prepared the publication but was meanwhile called to Saint Helena. Antommarchi left, taking with him three copies of Mascagni's plates. When Antommarchi returned, he published these plates, printed from lithographs, under his own name in a monumental work which appeared from 1823 to 1826 under the title of: "Planches anatomiques du corps humain exécutées d'après les dimensions naturelles accompagnées d'un texte explicatif". [25] [26] [27] [28] The plates for the publication were drawn and possibly engraved by Antoine Seratoni.

Paolo Mascagni's anatomical drawing with Antommarchi's annotations. Antommarchi Annotated Anatomical Drawing.png
Paolo Mascagni's anatomical drawing with Antommarchi's annotations.

Name variants

François Carlo Antommarchi's original name has many variants in the literature due to translations and misspellings:

The phonetic pronunciation of "François" is "frahn-swah".



The literature cites both 1780 [2] and 1789 [29] as the birth date of Antommarchi.

Napoleon's death mask

It is unclear if the original cast for the death mask of Napoleon made by Antommarchi survived. It is said that Antommarchi's cast failed but Dr Francis Burton apparently took another cast which survived. To complicate matters, Madame Bertrand, apparently related to Henri Gatien Bertrand and Napoleon's attendant, is said to have stolen a large part of the cast taken by Burton and given it to Antommarchi. [30]

No unequivocal and decisive proof has ever been presented to settle this controversy and it may never be resolved. Possible motivations for this controversy, for both parties, can include but are not limited to:

Right Hand Cast of Napoleon

Despite a post-mortem cast of Bonaparte's right hand, allegedly by Antommarchi, sold [31] and exhibited in museums, [32] [33] none of the persons that were present in Saint Helena when Napoleon died ever reported that such a cast occurred. On the contrary, his servant Louis-Étienne Saint-Denis (a.k.a. "le mameluck Ali") regrets in his memoirs that nobody had the idea to cast Napoleon's hands. [34]

Mascagni Heirs

A legal dispute between Antommarchi and the heirs of Mascagni regarding the rights to Mascagni's plates was never resolved. [35] [36] [37]


  1. Leonardo da Vinci studied anatomy at the Hospital of Santa Maria Nuova
  2. The "Death of Napoleon" painting is currently displayed at Musée de l'Armée in Paris, France.

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  1. ""Paolo Mascagni", The University of Iowa, 12 June 2006". Retrieved 10 October 2010.
  2. 1 2 Thomason, Henry D., "Napoleon, the First Emperor of France: From St. Helena to Santiago de Cuba. Being a Summary of Facts Concerning the Latter Days of Dr. François Antomarchi, the Last Physician to His Imperial Majesty", 1910
  3. see Chronology of Napoleon's last months of illness
  4. Sven Jonas Stille, Podróż do Polski, Warszawa 1985, p. 137.
  5. Saby, Claude-Alain, "1815 Les naufragés de l'Empire aux Amériques", 2007
  6. 1 2 "Reynolds, James, "Head and Upper Body", 2006". Retrieved 10 October 2010.
  7. Garzón-Sobrado, Eduardo, "Speech at the historic restoration of the death mask of the Emperor Napoleon I to the people of Mexico in the Chapultepec Palace, 25 July 2005
  8. De Las Cases, Emmanuel, "The Memorial of Saint Helena", 1823
  9. "Louisiana Purchase". Retrieved 10 October 2010.
  11. "The Art Institute of Chicago: Home: Under Construction". Retrieved 10 October 2010.
  12. "North Carolina Collection-Napoleon Death Mask". 27 May 2009. Retrieved 10 October 2010.
  13. "Instituto Napoleónico México-Francia". Retrieved 10 October 2010.
  14. "Museo Nacional De Historia". Retrieved 10 October 2010.
  15. "Document sans nom". Retrieved 10 October 2010.
  16. "St. Louis Mercantile Library". Retrieved 10 October 2010.
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  18. Antommarchi, Francesco, "The last days of the Emperor Napoleon: By Doctor F. Antommarchi, His Physician. In Two Volumes.", 1825
  19. Thomason, Henry D., Antommarchi, Francesco, "Napoleon, the First Emperor of France: From St. Helena to Santiago de Cuba. Being a Summary of Facts Concerning the Latter Days of Dr. François Antomarchi, the Last Physician to His Imperial Majesty", 1910
  20. Napoleon, Gourgaud, Gaspard, Montholon, Charles-Tristan, O'Meara, Barry Edward, Las Cases, Emanuel Auguste Dieudonné Marius Joseph, Antommarchi, Francesco, "Memoirs of the History of France During the Reign of Napoleon" 1823
  21. Antommarchi, Francesco, "The last days of Napoleon: memoirs of the last two years of Napoleon's exile", 1826
  22. Antommarchi, Francesco, "Derniers momens de Napoléon, ou, Complément du Mémorial de Ste-Hélène: ou complément du mémorial de Ste-Hélène", 1825
  23. Antommarchi, Francesco, "Mémoires du docteur Antommarchi, ou, Les derniers momens de Napoléon: ou Les derniers momens de Napoléon", 1825
  24. Antommarchi, François, "Mémoires du docteur F. Antommarchi, ou Les derniers momens de Napoléon", 1825
  25. Antommarchi, Francesco C., "Anatomical Prints of the Human Body with Natural Dimensions", 1826
  26. Antommarchi, Francisco, "Prodromo della grande anatomia seconda opera pstuma di Paolo Mascagni, posta in ordine, e poblicata a spese di una Societa innominata da Francisco Antommarchi", 1819
  27. Antommarchi, Francisco, "Tavole figurate di aalcume porti organiche del corpo umano degli animali e dei vegetablii, esposte nel prodromo della grande anatomia di Paolo Mascagni", 1819
  28. Moodie, Roy L., "Anatomical Names with Biographical Sketches", 1917. Google Books. 21 November 2007. Retrieved 10 October 2010.
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  35. Choulant, Ludwig, Mortimer, Frank, Fielding, Hudson G., Streeter, Edward C., "History and bibliography of anatomic illustration in its relation to anatomic science and the graphic arts", 1852
  36. Knight, Charles, "Penny cyclopaedia of the Society for the diffusion of useful knowledge: Second supplement", 1858
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