Maternal step-uncle to Napoleon I, Fesch abandoned his holy orders during the revolution and held civilian posts. In 1796 he became French Commissary of War in Italy. When Napoleon restored public worship, Fesch resumed his holy orders and in 1802 became Archibishop of Lyon, and Cardinal from 1803. After the fall of the Empire he took refuge in Rome. The Cardinal was a collector of extraordinary means. His large collection was housed in the Falconieri Palace, his residence in Rome. Fesch bequeathed nearly 1000 paintings to his native town of Ajaccio (Corsica); some of his collection was sold in Rome following his death; still other parts of his collection found their way to London and were sold at Christie's.
Fesch Inventory, Rome, Archivio di Stato, Archivio dei Notari Capitolini, UIfficio 11, Not. Augusto Appollinj.
Camuccini, V. and G.B. Borrani, eds. Catalogue des tablesux composant la Galerie de Feu Son Eminence le Cardinal Fesch. Rome, 1841
Thuillier, J. "Les tableaux du Cardinal-oncle." L'Oeil 34 (October 1957):32-41
Le Blanc. "La Collection du Cardinal Fesch au Musée d'Ajaccio." La Revue Française 179 (August 1965):69+
Carrington, C. Apollo 96 (November 1967):346-357
Blumenthal, Arthur R. Bulletin of Elvehjem Art Center, University of Wisconsin (1970-1971):14+
Wynne, Michael. "Fesch Paintings in the National Gallery of Ireland." Gazette des Beaux-Arts 89 (January 1977):1+