In the enthralling oil and gold leaf canvas, renowned artist André Romijn crafts a meticulous juxtaposition of historical reverence and personal introspection, potentially featuring Paolina Bonaparte, Napoleon’s sister, in a delicate balance of reminiscence and melancholy. With meticulous strokes, the painter immortalizes a moment of profound introspection, where the viewer is invited to traverse the emotional and mental state of the depicted subject.

Ponderings of Paolina Bonaparte
Ponderings of Paolina: A Luminous Enigma by André Romijn

The woman, potentially Paolina, is presented in an enduring stillness, her thumb gently grazing her nose while her hand cradles her chin, a classic pose evoking a sense of contemplation. With her dark golden hair classically styled, her image provides a nostalgic reflection, a quiet homage to an era marked by romanticism and turmoil, particularly nuanced given her familial ties and personal history.

Ponderings of Paolina by Andr Romijn oktober 2023 exhibition viareggio

The glimmering beaches of Viareggio

There’s a tangible tension between the present and the past. The warm gold might suggest the glimmering beaches of Viareggio, while the brown could be a subtle nod to the tragedy of Percy Bysshe Shelley, whose body was, as legend has it, returned by the sea right in front of what would later be Paolina’s villa. As a passionate admirer of Shelley’s poetry, Paolina’s choice of residence near this sacred spot speaks of her profound connection to art and culture.

Ponderings of Paolina by andre romijn

Her secret love

One cannot help but wonder: Is she pondering over Shelley’s poetic lines, or perhaps reminiscing about her secret love, the musician Giovanni Pacini, with whom she shared many a silent moment in the villa? Or is she reflecting on her own tumultuous life, shaped by the weight of the Bonaparte name and her retreat to this ‘Refuge of Venus’ after the death of her iconic brother?

Frozen in a moment of time

Romijn thus propels the viewers into a deep dive, not just into the historical and societal contexts of Paolina’s life and times, but also into a profound exploration of human emotions and vulnerabilities. Who is this pensive woman, and what occupies her thoughts so fully, as she is frozen in a moment of time? Is it love, is it loss, or is it the eternal dance between the two, encapsulated so deftly in the warm, shadowed spaces of Romijn’s creation?

featuring Paolina Bonaparte, Napoleon's sister, in a delicate balance of reminiscence and melancholy KUNSTHUIS Andre Middelburg

This is one of three paintings by André Romijn as part of UNSEEN REALITY, an international contemporary art exhibition, which took place 16 November – 3 December 2023 at Museo de Villa Paolina – Viareggio (LU), Italy.

A narrative that speaks, unbridled, to the heart

In this painting, André Romijn demonstrates not only his remarkable technical skills as a painter but also an incredible capacity to communicate depth, emotion, and a profound, universal human experience through the medium of his art. He takes a moment, a woman, and a historical context and melds them seamlessly into a narrative that speaks, unbridled, to the heart.


  • Size (h w d): 75 x 75 cm
  • Medium: Oil and Gold Leaf on canvas

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