Like other sculptors of his place and time, Barye was drawn to the figure of Napoleon Bonaparte, not least because he had been conscripted into the emperors final army at age sixteen. Napoleon, born to a Corsican family of noble Italian descent, worked his way up through the French ranks during the French Revolution and the European wars that followed until he not only ruled France as Napoleon I, but also cast his mark across much of Europe, conquering the majority and either marrying his family into royalty or, in some cases, actually seating them on some of the royal thrones of Europe. Later in the century, artists would claim the favor of the second French emperor, Napoleon III, by creating images of his illustrious uncle. Just after the centurys halfway mark, Barye received an imperial commission to produce four allegorical groups for the Louvre and a bas-relief of Napoleon III on horseback. In 1855, he won the grand gold medal of honor at the Exposition Universalle and his continued favor with the emperor was marked by his appointment as Professor of Zoological Drawing at the Museum of Natural History.