« The Incorrigible Malfeasance of Dr. Irwin Redlener | Main | The Grapes of Wrath »

October 13, 2005

Napoleon King - French Quarter Painter

I was 18 when I started school in New Orleans in 1984. In the Spring of 1985, I started hanging out in Jackson Square. I'd ride my bike down there pretty much every day, and just hang out in the square, teaching myself how to juggle. I cut open tennis balls and filled them with pennies to stop them from bouncing. Every day, I'd go into the square and practice in the shade of the trees.

Napoleon was an eternal figure on the square. If the sun was shining, he was out painting. When all the other tourists were doing caricatures for a few dollars, Napoleon would stretch out these massive canvases, set up his easel, and paint the St. Louis Cathedral, or the Cabildo, or Pirate's Alley in oil or acryllic.

He'd hang his art on the wrought iron fence of the square and then sit there painting with that little metal painting trowel that the artists use to spread oil based paint when money is not a concern.

Whenever I came down, I'd park my bike by his cart and lock it up, and he'd always say "Hey, Robbie! Hey man! How 'ya doing? It's a great day today, huh? Are you gon'na juggle your balls today?" And then he'd laugh. This huge, sincere, earth shaking laugh, with his gap-toothed grin. It really made you look around, to see if other people were staring at you. But Napoleon didn't care. He was having a great time with what he was doing. You could always tell that about him.

Charcoal sketch of Pirate's Alley by Napoleon King - Photo courtesy of M. Hill

He experimented with his paintings. He'd do watercolors for a while, then switch to charcoals. Sometimes painting ante-bellum style characters, sometimes modern. Or he'd paint scenes of the swamps from his memory or his imagination, I never knew where those came from. He took on his nephew Leon as an apprentice, and began teaching him to paint. New Orleans is a hard place to grow up young and black, and you could see that he was trying to keep Leon out of trouble.

Napoleon really introduced me to the city. Not to uptown, in the Garden District, where all the Tulane crowd was hanging out. Napoleon introduced me to the black side of New Orleans. We went to places where I'd be the only white guy there, which was cool.

At lunch time, we'd take a break and go to Café Maspero's for a muffuletta or Café Pontalba and have a sandwich. I'd get one of their one dollar daiquiris and he'd get a beer. Napoleon was the only guy I ever knew that had his own table in a restaurant. When we went into Café Maspero's, his table was always open. The restaurant would be packed, and damned if they didn't hold his table for him. And it wasn't the kind of place that took reservations. It wasn't like that. It was just some deal he had worked out with them. When we showed up, they sat us at the same table every time.

When I got better with my juggling, I started doing little shows on the square. I'd juggle two balls and an apple and eat the apple while I juggled it, which isn't easy. So, I'd get a little money from the shows, never much, but just some change or a dollar or two. Whenever I collected enough money, we'd walk across Decatur Street and go to Café Du Monde for beignets and Café Au Lait. I've always loved beignets, but Napoleon wouldn't touch them. "Man...I don't know how you eat that shit." He'd say. But he'd drink coffee with me though. And we'd sit there, me eating steaming hot beignets and both of us sipping coffee. It cost next to nothing. I think that back then, you could get an order of beignets and a cup of coffee for 35 cents.

Whenever I was back in New Orleans, I'd always walk around the square until I found him, and he'd immediately drop his painting and we'd go off and eat lunch together. Only, as I got older, I made him let me pay the bill.

At some point over the last few years, I finally purchased a few paintings from him, probably the only paintings I've ever bought in my life (I'm not big on decorating).

The last time I saw him was in the winter a year or two ago, he suggested we meet at Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop. I'd never even heard of the place, but it's this cozy, little old bar on Bourbon and St. Phillip with a big fire going in the fireplace. It was cold outside, which is pretty rare, so it was the perfect place to meet.

When I last saw him, he hadn't changed much in the 20 years I'd known him. His beard was a little grayer, and he'd gotten his teeth fixed, but, other than that, he was just the same. "Hey Robbie. How ya' been, man? Isn't this weather crazy? It's cold out there. This is nuts man. Really nuts." The fire felt really nice. That's just the was Napoleon was, he knew every little nook and cranny of New Orleans, and was like my own personal tour guide of the city.

I was in New Orleans in August, about a week before the hurricane hit and I wanted to introduce my daughter to him, this timeless, eternal presence of the square. I drug my daughter all around Jackson Square looking for him, but he wasn't out.

I learned today that he passed away in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. His sister said had been on dialysis and living with someone else over the last couple of years, as he could no longer live on his own. He was one of those people that was shuttled around between the different locations for the Hurricane refugees; part of the wave of humanity displaced by the storm. He passed away on a bus, while being bantied back and forth between shelters like a human shuttlecock.

The Time Picayune said this of Napoleon in 2003:

Self-taught artist Harold "Napoleon" King has painted French Quarter scenes on the square for 33 years. "I'm from Florida and I heard about the Mardi Gras," he said, "so I came to New Orleans on the bus. Unfortunately I came on the day after Mardi Gras. I heard about people dancing naked on the bar tops. And I found out about Buster Holmes (a famous former French Quarter restaurant) where I could get beans and rice for 35 cents -- which meant I could stay here a little longer than I would have. The history and the landscape hit me -- it was like a bomb dropped. Sales are extremely good on the fence (compared to other places he's painted in the Quarter). People come here looking for something to match their living style -- honeymooners, doctors, lawyers. School kids come by -- that's inspiring."

I'm sad that he's gone, but glad that he was there to help make my time in New Orleans such a rich and fulfilling experience.

Napoleon King, a fixture of Jackson Square, New Orleans for 35 years, was born Harold Napoleon King in Florida on October 22, 1938 to Joe Brown King and Eloise Jessica Parker King. Rest In Peace, Napoleon.

Update: Here's an article on the web about Napolean King. The article is funny because it says he used to have pet rabbits and dress in a pirate's hat. I never saw a rabbit or a pirate's hat, as I met him in the Spring of 1985, 15 years after his arrival in New Orleans. So, he was probably past that phase when I met him.

Update 2: Many thanks to Jo Ann Christensen for sharing this beautiful charcoal by Napoleon King dated 1972. This charcoal appears to be a montage, which would make it unusual, in my personal opinion. When I knew Napoleon, he was doing works in water color, oil, and charcoal - he was a ceaseless experimenter, and moved easily between the different mediums. But mostly what I'd see him doing was water colors of New Orleans street scenes. Charcoals of cajun shacks and swamp scenes, or charcoals of people occasionally. Then then the enormous oil paintings of the St Louis cathedral, the Pontalba, or some other classic French Quarter scene, like possibly Cafe Du Monde or even Maspero's.

This appears to show, from the top down:

  • A New Orleans street scene. Possibly this is Jean Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop, on the corner of Bourbon and St. Phillip - but certainly it is a classic New Orleans street corner, with the French architecture and the gas street lamp.
  • A classic antebellum mansion. (Ante-bellum is Latin that translates literally as "pre-war", meaning it was built before the War of Northern Aggression). In the foreground of the mansion is a live oak tree towering above a single headstone.
  • The bottom appears to be a view of the Mississippi river, possibly from the Moon Walk (after former mayor Maurice "Moon" Landrieu), looking back across the Mississippi River bridge toward the West Bank, and Algiers, Gretna, etc.

Update: 11/03/2012 - Bethany indicates that the painting below is the last work produced by Napoleon King, shortly before he passed away in 2005, in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Rest In Peace, Napoleon King. The coolest painter I ever knew.

Posted by Peenie Wallie on October 13, 2005 at 12:39 AM


Sorry to hear about Napoleon. His illness must have been fairly recent for I visited with him the last time I was in NO.

Posted by: sl on October 13, 2005 at 6:44 AM

Thank you very much for the reminiscences of Napoleon King. There is a January 1975 article about him posted at TheCommunityStandard.com.

Posted by: Henry Mitchell on December 17, 2005 at 9:58 PM

Thank you for your article and information.

I've known Napoleon since the summer of '81... and off and on through the years, seeing him the last time in June of '01. He was a dear sweet man and the greatest artist on the Square. He had a smile and kind word for everyone.

My son and I were in New Orleans this past week; he was helping a family clean up and rebuild while I was filming in Alabama...

I asked about Napoleon and learned of his tragic and sad passing... from a reliable source, and was told this:

"He made it to the Superdome. Another artist made the effort to find him there, knowing he needed dialysis, and somehow got him to Tulane med center. There was no power, of course. She or someone later ID'd him in the morgue."

He and so many others did not need to go like this... We will never forget Napoleon.


Posted by: Shirley (Alexander) Morgan, Noblesville, IN on February 5, 2006 at 3:22 PM

I am so glad I found this sight. Sometime last year I was at an estate sale outside of Salinas, CA. In one of the old outbuildings, in a very cheap frame was a charcoal of an area I had never seen. Iron gates, couple walking down the street, looked like streetlamps on, looked like old church steeple in the picture. I thought it was some part of Europe. 3 times I walked away and 3 times I went back. It was not my style but I thought it had a charm to it....I could feel the street....it was $2.00. Took the risk. I tried for the longest time to find out who the artist was, from the internet I could tell he was from New Orleans, saw that some place had one of his oils for auction. Still did not know the history, his timeline, anything about him. For some reason I was again pushed to search for him and now I know the rest of the story.
I will say how sorry I am that he passed and under the horrible conditions that he went. What hits me more is that this man somehow found his bliss. I think he led the life he wanted and had friends everywhere. To think that so far away, I have a part of the poetry that was in his soul and now in a way, know him,,,,,he has impacted people far and wide....

Posted by: M. Hill on March 11, 2006 at 10:18 AM


I spent Mardi Gras 2001 with Napoleon, and a guy named Robbie- Was that you? He had spent several days doing a portrait of me, even though he usually did street scenes. We listened to his radio and fed his birds in the square. Mardi Gras night he painted my face, and the he and you (if it was you) painted other parts of other women.

In February, 2004 i was in NO for just a few days. I asked around Jackson Square for Napoleon and was told he was away for dialysis.

When I heard about Katrina, I tried to contact him, unsuccessfully. I thought about him often. I somehow believed he would be okay.

I just found your post. I am so sorry he went through that horror.

if you are the Robbie from Mardi Gras 2001, email me if you have the time. I have pictures of Napoleon and me from that night. I always wanted him to adapt the photo into a portrait of us together.


Posted by: Maureen on May 21, 2006 at 8:27 AM

Sorry, to hear about this sad news this wonderful artist. Was looking for his location to buy a piece of his work and I stumbled on this shocking news. If you know of a local studio with his work please let me know. Thanks and my prayers are with him.

Posted by: deborah rosser on November 5, 2006 at 7:09 PM

I have a couple of prints dated 1975 I was wondering if anyone knew how much they were worth or if anyone was interested

Posted by: Shelia on November 12, 2006 at 9:00 AM

I was in New Orleans in 1998 a vacation filled with laughter with my dearest friend and her mom. We went to the French Quarter to find art. I found art and the artist I will never forget. He had charm and charisma that fill the square and drew me back to him to buy a painting. I often wonder if he was safe from the hurricane. I am sad to find out about his passing. King made a lasting impression on me and I will never forget his smile. He is a King!

Posted by: Beth Stevens on November 22, 2006 at 9:23 AM

My ex and I bought a large oil painting (old French Quarter Street scene at sunset)from Napolean in the early 1980s. The paint was still wet when we took it home to San Antonio on the plane. I got it in the divorce. I've had it hanging over my bed for over 20 years and it always charms me as did Napoleon. He was so colorful I've never forgotten him. I did see him sometime in the late 1980s but not since. I am truly saddened to hear of his tragic death.
For some odd reason, I decided to try to find out about him for the first time tonight. Thanks
to Google, I found your story. My ex and I are still friends and he loved Napoleon, too. So, I will share your story with him. Thanks for posting it. I have always cherished this painting and now I will do so even more.

Posted by: Jodie on January 23, 2007 at 10:10 PM

My name is Paul Quirk. My girlfriend Brenda and I had been friends with Napoleon for over 10 years. We talked to Napoleon at length several times after he was evacuated from New Orleans; the last time was a day or two before his death.

We never knew him by any name other than "King Napoleon" and "Napoleon King"; he signed paintings using either name. Napoleon's real name was Harold King. We didn't find this out until he called me, out of the blue, after being evacuated. I told him I had been trying and trying to reach him after the hurricane and I asked him "why didn't you register your name at the Superdome like everyone else?" [there was a regestry online to get info on evacuaees]. He said "I did" and I told him I looked for King Napoleon and Napoleon King and he laughed and said "I used my real name Harold King." As many times as we went to dinner, lunch, and talked on the square and at his home, it just never came up.

A friend of mine here in California wanted to donate to Katrina victims so I told him about Napoleon and where he was staying, so he sent him a check. Several days latter he calls me and said his check was returned, did I have the right address? I told him my check didn't come back, so I immediately called the hospital and they reluctantly told me that he died in-route, by ambulance to Gretna. I belive Napoleon died with my check in his wallet. We were absolutely devastated to get the news.

Napoleon was quite weak and frail prior to Katrina. For those that don't know, about 5 or 6 years ago Napoleon tripped over a can of Jaso, a white liquid, artists put on their canvas' prior to painting, in his house. He passed out and had been breathing the fumes for sometime before his roommate, Jackie, found him. He suffered severe kidney damage, lost a lot of weight, and ended up on dyalisis 3 times a week.

We last saw him in the Spring, prior to Katrina and were concerned about his health. His right shoulder was so sore he could hardly lift his arm. He hadn't been painting for a while, he was very thin, and I offered to get his cart, which he stored near Cafe DuMonde. We got it to Jackson Square and it started pouring rain and he could only sit under the awning and watch, with a sad look on his face, as we had to say good bye and head back to California.

Napoleon was on his way to dyalysis, on his bicycle, when as he said "the next thing I knew, I was up to my neck in water". He waited on a porch until a Coast Guard truck rescued him and took him to the Superdome. He said he was there a short while, when he and other medical patients were bused to LSU in Baton Rouge, then to Alexanderia, and finally ended up in Leesville, LA at the Leesville Rehabilation Hospital.

Napoleon told us he was feeling great, his shoulder was better, he had energy, and he was painting at the hospital and had made friends with all the staff. He said he was going to be transferred to Gretna, to a faciltiy that had dyalysis equipment and he couldn't have sounded any happier. We couldn't believe how great and stroung he sounded. We were very relieved and excited for him.

Needless to say the last thing I expected to hear when I called the hospital was that he had died in-route to Gretna.

Please forgive this long carthartic post, but when I found this site, I felt obliged to share the most accurate information I had. I would be happy to talk to anyone who knew and misses our friend. He truly was a unique human being who brightned the lives of all of us who took the time to get to know him.

God Bless our friend Harold "Napoleon" King

Paul Quirk

P.S. If anyone knows how to reach either of his sisters in Atlanta or West Palm Beach, please let me know. Thank you.

Posted by: paul on February 13, 2007 at 5:17 PM

So sorry to of heard the sad news of Napoleon, I am from South Africa and my girlfriend and I went to New Orleans just before the hurrican struck, I saw Napoleon in the square and just had to buy some of his paintings Three in all and they hang in our new house ,he was a lovely man and the paintings will remind me of him for the rest of my life. God Bless him.
John Parry

Posted by: John Parry on April 28, 2007 at 10:32 AM

Thank you for placing this post on the web. We bought a large painting of the French Quarter from Napoleon in 1984 and I've always been curious about the history of the artist.
It's unfortunate to hear that he passed away after making such a strong recovery.
We will always remember him as the congenial and gracious artist that we met at Jackson Square.

Posted by: Jeff on October 7, 2007 at 8:12 AM

I have 2 charcoal drawling's from Harold "Napoleon" King. My great Aunt who used to live in New Orleans painted next to him on occasion. She bought these drawling's from him in 1975. In the 80's they were worth around 500. a piece.
In 2000, my aunt moved to Mississippi and then to Texas after her husband passed away.
In 2006 I googled Harold's name and found this devastating article that he had passed away. My Aunt was fond of him and talked highly of him. She just didn't have the room for these huge drawling's when she moved So, she sent them to my mom.
He was extremely talented and seemed to touch so many lives. May he rest in peace.

Thank you for your article.
Rita, NJ

Posted by: Rita on November 3, 2007 at 11:41 AM

Does anyone know of any collections or displays of Napolean King's works. We are lucky enough to have one of his haunting sketches. It's so sad to hear of his death. I would love to see other pieces of his work.

Posted by: George B on November 28, 2007 at 4:29 PM

I am not very computer literate. Is there a way to post pictures of his that we may have so we can share his work? I would love to see what else is out there that he did.

Posted by: M.Hill on March 5, 2008 at 1:07 PM

I moved to Nola a few months ago and one of the first things I did was go to Jackson Square to try and find this man. I had met him several times over the years and was a big fan of his art, but unfortunately those weren't the years when I had the disposable income to buy art. My art bears little in common with his but he has influenced me all the same. I've googled him before but for some reason I never found out what happened to him. Now I found him a little too late.

Posted by: Scott Moseley on April 7, 2008 at 5:08 PM

I have a hard time finding him when I Googled him. Possibly a site can be created under his name with reference to New Orleans and then guided to this site.....I tried using his name and artist. Very difficult to find someone who had been there that long. I wonder how many of his paintings still exist in New Orleans and surrounding towns....

Posted by: M. Hill on April 12, 2008 at 8:56 AM

I'm not sure how many of his paintings still survive. I have a few at my house. I'll try to post what I have.

Posted by: Rob Kiser on April 12, 2008 at 10:15 PM

I absolutely adored this darling and phenomenally talented man. He made me feel special and part of the inside crowd very time I got to see him!!! I am so proud of his life and his works. God Bless Napoleon. Constance Canfiels

Posted by: Constance Canfield on January 10, 2009 at 2:56 PM

Constance, Stay off the buses and don't eat too many Lucky Dogs.

Posted by: Rob Kiser on January 11, 2009 at 11:14 PM

Unfortunatly for me, economic times are forcing me to sell art I own. Does anyone have any idea where to find the cost/value of a Napolean King charcoal? I believe it is in the French Quarter.

Thanks in advance,
need to sell, need a decent price.....Are there any art galleries in New Orleans collecting his works?

Posted by: M.Hill on February 1, 2009 at 12:23 PM

I'm not aware of any galleries that buy his work. I'd like to have it for sentimental reasons though. How much are you asking for it?

Posted by: Rob Kiser Author Profile Page on February 1, 2009 at 6:06 PM

Hi Rob, I am also someone who met the wonderful Napoleon (with rabbits), did you ever get round to posting what you have of his work? Also, did you but the charcoal from M.Hill, If not, I would be interested.

Posted by: Christine C on March 15, 2009 at 6:00 PM

i have the painting of maureen, done in oil,,signed and dated by napolean king, 1980, i knew her personally.the painting is the exact of her likness.she is now passed away, she has a insert in the statement above,

Posted by: helen on April 27, 2009 at 8:58 PM

has anyone seen the painting of maureen,,, she has sinced passed away,,, its beautiful,, as was she,,, we have it,,

Posted by: helen on April 30, 2009 at 9:24 PM

I'm not familiar with who Maureen was. Send in a phboto of your painting and I'll post it to share.

Posted by: Rob Kiser on May 1, 2009 at 10:10 PM

Rob, can you email me?


Posted by: Anonymous on May 5, 2009 at 8:11 PM

When I recently googled and found the old 1975 "Community Standard" article, my heart broke to learn that Mr. King had passed away "in the afatermath of Katrina". Having now stumbled on this website, it's good to know that he has indeed been revered. I only met him once in 1972, as I sat in his cubicle for a charcoal portrait as a typical first-time New Orleans tourist. Besides being enamored of Mr. King's physical beauty and colorful attire, I fell in love with (and purchased) another work that was propped against the wall in the corner -- it's a frightening stylized night scene depiction of an old mansion along the river bank, another building that looks like a church, a huge tree, people with torches boarding canoes (escaping??), and the whole dark scene appears to be somehow ablaze. But the primary attraction in this work is what I believe to have been Mr. King's own self-portrait, embellished with beard, earring and "pirate-tied" head-scarf. I still really don't know (or care) if it's chalk, oil, acrylic or watercolor, because it's those sad, haunting eyes that have made this piece such a treasure to me. As I'm getting older and have no friends or family who might give it due appreciation through the future, I was wondering if there is a southern museum where Mr. King's works might be permanently housed and protected. I do believe this piece and probably many others of his have great significance in Black history.

Posted by: Jo Christensen on May 20, 2009 at 5:20 PM

I'm not aware of a museum, but we could certainly start one. Please send me a photo and I'll post on this site if you're interested in sharing. It sounds like an interesting piece.

Posted by: rob kiser on May 20, 2009 at 10:38 PM

I WAS in n.o, in 1974 and had a boutique in fla called NAPOLEONS CLOSET i met napoleon on the squar and wanted to put his paintings in my store for sale somehow i lost contact w/him he was special had a huge black pirates hatAND a crazy smile
i would love to buy 1 of his paintings today
thanks for the information about him

Posted by: nedra ware on June 9, 2009 at 8:29 PM

How very sad , but what a wonderful artist he was, i have read all of the postings on him and someone needs to do something to get him reconized for his art work, so he can become one of the very talented artists of our time. I recently bought a very large oil on canvas of his so i was researching and found the two sites about him, the painting i bought is a street sceene with a horse and buggy, but the best part of the painting is in the bottom right corner there is an artist painting you can email me at cranesrus@gmail.com

Posted by: ron on September 20, 2009 at 8:14 PM

Hi Wow. Thank You for doing this. i knew Napoleon since I was 13 years old and he taught me to paint as a teenager on the square. I went off to Art School and then painted all over , but would always come back and stay with him at his apartment and talk all night about everything under the sun and the moon. We painted an bodies all day together at mardi Gras and then paint our other paintings at other times. i would help him carry his stuff out to the square in the morning and back home at night. The thing about napoleon was that I learned how to be a better human being more than i ever learned how to be an artist from him. I recently have been back to New orleans this summer as i got too depressed before walking around and thinking of him I couldnt face it. But time heals and this time i thought of all the great things he taught me about life. I spoke to some friends and have spoken to the new Orleans museum about a show of his work. I think it should happen. if you want to help me do this i would love to as I dont live in New orleans.He was one of my best friends for 30 years. I never once called him in all that time where he didnt make me feel better about whatever it might be I was going thru. I was the skinny white kid that used to follow him around in the 80s. He was truly one of Gods special teachers. Please contact me and i will tell you more stories and we can get this show together if you want somehow!Thank you again for doing this.

Posted by: Jim Bilgere on September 29, 2009 at 2:09 PM

I remember many thstories of my times with napoleon, but mardi Gras day always has to be a significant one. 6 am would roll around and he would be on his feet.and me not being a morning person would think oh are you sure we gotta go so soon. He would come in my room and as always would say "Rise and Shine , Its Party Time!". And wow i was ready to get going. Then we would get in costume. He was always the Witch Doctor. I was the Chinese cowboy. We would get down to the square before anyone else was there to make sure we had our spot, Then we would go to the French market to get breakfast. We got back and got ready to go. I particularly remember the Mardi Gras of 2000 i believe it was. the crowd was dull in the morning and no one was getting painted on so napoleon made a sign that read "special on tits" And we would say buy one get one free! He was always so funny that way. He had a way of humor that would put people at their ease. So as the day progressed we started to get busy and never stopped. I of course was most often his assistant and would start the body paintings while he finished the previous customer. Most often it would be a buttefly on someones face or a dragon. but it was always beautiful and he had special sparkling dust he would sprinkle on the paint afterward. And we would be the last one s to leave at the end of the day , Probably around 2 am the next day. He was a warrior till the end!

Posted by: Jim Bilgere on September 29, 2009 at 11:58 PM

I first met napoleon when i was 13 years old in 1980. He was an artist and was a kid who wanted to be an artist. He was a close friend of my Grandmother and she wanted me to know him. I got to see his apartment when he lived above Pat O'briens. It was definitely decorated like a Shieks palace. We would sit with him on the square on weekends and he would encourage me with my drawing. i was there every summer of my teen years after that and knew I wanted to learn how someone could be so happy. he was first art teacher and one of my best friends from that moment on until his very last days. I spoke to him the day before he passed. Even though I went on to art school and then to paint all over I always went back to stay with Napoleon.He was truly one of my dearest friends 25 years.I was the skinny white kid who used to follow him all over the quarter. He was the master and I was the grasshopper. I remember waking up and helping him get his cart out on the square. and then going to Kaldis for coffe, As he had already cooked breakfast in the morning most often . Usually eggs with grits that had slices of avacado in them that he had been given at the French market on his way home.Napoleon taught me more about life than he ever did about pianting. he taught me not to be prejudice of anyone no matter what they were.He always had a kind word for every single one of the millions of people who passed by him as he sat on the square. Over the years his location would change but he never did. He was so funny and so full of love. sually after a day of painting on the square. we would go back to his place and get a few beers and sit on his stoop and talk to people who stopped to talk or watch movies. He loved to watch old movies. Giant was his favoriye. But he also turned me on to Blacula and black sci=fi movies. But he always had a maxterpiece he would be working on at the same time. These were ones for special clients and rarely were seen at the scuare. i will gladly share more stories with anyone who loved Napoleon anytime . I have spoken to a few friends who have some of his art and to the art museum in New Orleaans about having a show of his work there. I think it is time. If anyone can help with this contact me at sirbunk112@hotmail.com or at 417-793=4186' Its time to honor this amazing man1

Posted by: Jim Bilgere on September 30, 2009 at 12:29 AM


I have a large chalk portrate of me done by Mr. King in 1970. It is a personal treasure that I would not part with however since I have many other ortists work I would like to know it's value so I can include it in my estate. Any idea what an original signed portrate would be worth?


Posted by: Sharon Long on October 23, 2009 at 1:34 PM

last time i was in new orleans was probably a year or two before katrina...i bought one of napoleon's pastels in jackson square...had it framed and it's hanging in my dining room. i'm going back to the the quarter for a long weekend in january and was hoping napoleon was still around (although deep down i knew the chances would be slim)...i'm sure he will be, just not in the form i'd wished. bless you napoleon, and thank you for your BEAUTIFUL art, it's made my home a more lovely place to be!

Posted by: karen on December 28, 2009 at 5:48 PM

Napoleon was a great family friend. He attended my Grandmothers funeral. He also was a huge influence on my brothers art. My grandmother was also an artist that hung out w/ Napoleon in the french quarter all the time. R.I.P.

Great artist and great man

Posted by: R Bilgere on January 17, 2010 at 3:37 PM

Hi, I knew Napoleon for many years in the Quarter. I never got around to purchasing any of his art and would love a piece. Is there anyone out there interested in selling any of his work?
Thanks. I can be reached at lascardina@cox.net.

Posted by: Leigh Scardina on March 31, 2010 at 12:55 AM

I have three of his early charcoal pictures if anyone would be interested jthamert@aol.com

Posted by: Jeff Thamert on April 7, 2011 at 9:32 PM

I have a large painting Napoleon did for us in 1977, it is a picture of Bourbon street minus the bank of america sign..This painting has hung in ever home we have owned..I am just wondering is there any value in his paintings..I have have 2 potriats Napoleon did of me for my husband..Also serveral prints..Last time I saw Napoleon was in 94 or 95, sorry to hear of his death..

Posted by: Anonymous on April 19, 2011 at 3:32 PM

I remember his rabbit and when his nick name was Pirate. He was my best friend I spoke to him at least once a month for 25 years, I stayed with him when i was in New Orleans and he stayed at my Grammas in Chalmette. He taught me to be an artist on the square when I was a teenager and We painted faces together at Mardi Gras up until 2003 was my last one. If you want to see many nice pictures of him become my facebook friend, My name is Jim Bilgere and tell me you want me to send you photos of him. I will! I still miss him and can go no where i don't meet someone who doesn't know who he was. I recently met someone in Prague who knew who he was. He was an amazing person and I miss him everyday.

Posted by: Jim Bilgere on August 1, 2011 at 1:14 AM

I have a charcol picture done by Napoleon in 1992. I am looking to sell it. Does anyone know what it is worth?

Posted by: Chris Klein on August 29, 2011 at 3:57 PM

I have came across a painting Napulean King 1400 lower right side signed not sure what i have can u help? ty karra

Posted by: karra on March 15, 2012 at 10:06 AM

have a napulean king painting in canus not sure what i have dated 1400 signed.. can u help will send pic if need be,.. ty

Posted by: karra on March 15, 2012 at 10:08 AM

Today as I sat in my sun room painting something of my own I looked up at my south facing wall where the last painting mr king ever did. He was a patient and friend at the hosp I worked at. During those horrible first few days after Katrina I grew very found of mr king and would listen to his stories of painting. He mentioned how much he missed painting and u could see it in his face. So being in a little town I went to the best craft store we had... Wal*Mart. I bought as much as they had. The look on his face when I brought him the supplies was genuine gratitude. He sat down and started right away. The next day our handyman brought in an easel. Everyday the painting would grow and so would the sparkle in his eyes. Now it's about two weeks later and we the safe place are now being threatened by Rita. We survived in our little hospital with no damages. Mr king kept adding day by day to his painting. After a few mores days our patients from Nola were ready to head east again. That morning mr king signed his painting and gave it to me for making his time go by faster. I thanked him and insisted he take it with him. He then said he wanted to make sure it had a good home. We said our goodbyes and that afternoon mr king passed away. So here I am on my iPad googling mr napolean king and I found this beautiful page. Thank you

Posted by: Bethany on October 24, 2012 at 12:27 PM

I picked up a couple of his paintings in Covington recently.If anyone has any that they would like to sell I am interested.Please contact me @ peacocksr.clifton@yahoo.com to let me know.i would also like to have the ones I do have posted in the near future once I have them uploaded.

Posted by: Clif on January 27, 2013 at 1:45 PM

Napolean King was a gifted man no doubt about it. It's clear from his artwork that GOD touched his hands. My mother was fortunate to have her portrait done by him in 1976. It hangs proudly on display in her home, and everyone that sees it for the first time falls in love. The beauty of the portrait is haunting,it's never escaped me. Recently, I've been on the quest for a perfect piece of Art to adorn my home. I started to think about my Mother's portrait it made me realize that I wanted a Masterpiece of my own. So naturally, only two words came to mind: Napolean King. Unfortunately, it seems I am too late. It's my loss indeed. May his talented soul R.I.P.

I really enjoyed your stories about Mr. King. He seems to have been a marvelous, joyful human being. Thank you for sharing your memories.

Posted by: Elle on October 13, 2013 at 1:12 PM

I have a beautiful piece of art (looks like oil painting) from the year 2001. I was visiting New Orleans and saw his paintings on the street. I was a young girl with not much money in my pocket. I think I paid 125.00 at the time. It's a painting of Bourbon Street. I love it till this day and hang it proudly. Very talented man!

Posted by: Cheryl Dominique on October 24, 2013 at 5:19 PM

We are French but lived for a few years in the US.
We met with Napoleon King in New Orleans in the 90's We went to a Café where my younger daughter (she was 6 at that time) got connected with him. He just drawed her face and gave her the drawing as a present. When we moved back to France my younger daughter kept in touch with him through mail. He sent her copies of his paintings. This is the way we have been communicating together for several years.
Then we had no more connection. Now I understand why. This is very sad to hear that he passed the way. Beside his paintings we all keep this image of New Orleans. I'm sure his shadow is still alive there.
Didier from Paris

Posted by: Didier Arniaud on December 3, 2013 at 9:40 AM

i have found this very nice picture and this artist Napolean, seems like a very good artist and i would have loved to have met him. i think the picture is called Krazy Korner, so if anyone would like to inquire about it then feel free to shoot me an e-mail about it, thanks,,,,,robert

Posted by: robert holmes on June 6, 2015 at 12:43 PM

i have found this very nice picture and this artist Napolean, seems like a very good artist and i would have loved to have met him. i think the picture is called Krazy Korner, so if anyone would like to inquire about it then feel free to shoot me an e-mail about it, thanks,,,,,robert

Posted by: robert holmes on June 6, 2015 at 12:43 PM

So sad. I remember hanging out at his cart as a child and his laugh and smile. His art and personality was always a fond memory and still keep old New Orleans alive for me today....Whenever I was home I would go visit, and he always remembered me....

Posted by: Heather on September 6, 2015 at 5:12 PM

So sad. I remember hanging out at his cart as a child and his laugh and smile. His art and personality was always a fond memory and still keep old New Orleans alive for me today....Whenever I was home I would go visit, and he always remembered me....

Posted by: Heather on September 6, 2015 at 5:14 PM

I have an original oil of St Louis Cathedral painted by Napoléon King in or around 1978. I’m wondering what it’s worth.

Any ideas how I can find out ?



Posted by: Damien Carvalho on April 9, 2018 at 11:41 AM

Sometime in the 1970's, my mother accompanied my father on a business trip to New Orleans. I cannot recall exactly the details of how mom met Napoleon but the short of what I'm sure is a longer story, Napoleon painted my mother's portrait. Details I do somewhat remember is that he took her to his apartment, I believe it was at the top of some rickety stairway, and offered her a drink and proceeded to do her portrait. My mom was nervous being alone with a stranger, in an unknown town. Also, Napoleon sent my mom a hand drawn Christmas greeting that came Special Delivery with postage due on Christmas Day 1979 (I believe this was received a number of years after the portrait was done).

My mother recently passed away and while cleaning I found the Christmas greeting. Though having never met Napoleon, the thought of my mom's encounter with him makes me smile. So very, very sorry that Napoleon is no longer gracing the art world. I would have loved to reach out to him to see if he recalled the encounter. Napoleon's portrait of mom still graces mom & dad's house, proudly displayed at the top of the staircase.

Posted by: KMiller on January 23, 2019 at 6:08 PM

I found this site a few years ago and opened it up on a new tab for later reading. The laptop died unexpectedly one day, but recently I was able to resurrect it due to having a lot of down time due to COVID; the browser tabs (nearly 200, yikes) all fully restored. I'm grateful that this site is still up, and I'm nearly in tears reading these stories about King Napoleon. I was visiting NOLA for my birthday, which was also during Mardi Gras. I had spotted King Napoleon's work and fell in love with it. The price of the piece was too high for me to buy straight away, and I begged my then-partner to ask King if I could get it at a reduced price. King agreed to half, and I was overjoyed. I still have that painting - is it paint, pastel, or chalk??? - and it has hung in the various homes I've lived in over the past 19, almost 20 years I've had it. I recently put it back into storage, but I'm compelled to pull it back out; I just have so little wall space to hang anything these days! But the picture carries SO many memories for me. Anyway, I went back to NOLA for that then-partner's brother's wedding. I can't recall if I looked for him, but I'm betting I did. Perhaps that's what started my internet search for him, and I finally landed on this page many years later. Rest in power, King Napoleon. It sounds like you had a great life and great friends, and you wielded great talent for all of us to admire. I hope you get the recognition you deserve in a permanent placement in a museum one day.

Posted by: ljm on November 19, 2020 at 1:11 AM

Napoleon made this painting of me sometime 1980-81

Posted by: Anna Gustin on February 2, 2021 at 12:54 PM

Napoleon made this painting of me sometime 1980-81

Posted by: Anna Gustin on February 2, 2021 at 12:54 PM

I have one that is charcoal and he use yellow and white chalk for lighting and lamps and shine. So realistic. I thought about selling it.

Posted by: James on July 3, 2021 at 12:18 PM

My parents flew to New Orleans with friends in 1973. They came open Napoleon painting a large oil of, I believe, Bourbon street at night. My father immediately decided to buy it, and paid for it before he had even finished. My mother was very perturbed, as the painting was massive, with a heavy distressed wood frame. She repeatedly told my dad that there was no way they could carry this huge painting on a plane, and checking it might cause damage. They weren’t wealthy, and shipping it would have been quite expensive.
Their friend, who was a striking, 6’3”, very good looking guy, managed to convince the “Stewardess”, to get permission from The Captain, to put the painting in the cockpit for safe travels!
And that’s how Napoleons painting traveled to Florida:)

Posted by: Marcy on October 3, 2021 at 5:34 PM

Post a comment

Remember Me?

(you may use HTML tags for style)