Friday, January 13, 2017

Meeting Waterloo

Place du Chatelet And Its Fountain is an 1810 oil painting by Etienne Bouhot. It predates Napoleon's fall after Waterloo and his final years on St. Helena.

After Napoleon met his end in exile, his body was eventually repatriated to France. These items are models for aspects of his funerary arrangements.

The exhibit also included relics- a lock of hair, wax impressions from his sword, and a death mask in bronze.

The legacy of Napoleon was a complicated one in France in the decades after his death: how do you pay tribute to him? Or do you pay tribute to him? The exhibit examined his own plans for Paris, some of which never came to fruition, as well as those commemorations of his time. This miniature version of the 1865 statue of Josephine, backed by an engraving of the real statue done in 1867, reflects the efforts of Napoleon III to honour both Napoleon and Josephine; interestingly, he was her maternal grandson, while also a nephew of his namesake- that gets a bit complicated.

This is Apotheosis Of Napoleon I, Copy Of The Sketch For The Ceiling Of The Napoleon III Salon At Paris City Hall, dating to around 1870. It was done as a copy of the original, which was destroyed in 1871 by fire during the time of the Paris Commune.

I finish this series with a model of the Vendome Column on the right, and on the left, Figure Of Victory Held By The Statue Of Napoleon On The Vendome Column, an 1808 bronze by the artist Antoine-Denis Chaudet. It was first used to be held by the statue of Napoleon in full Roman regalia, which was melted down on orders by Louis XVIII in 1814. The bronze survived, and was incorporated into a new column honouring Napoleon under Napoleon III. That column was destroyed during the Paris Commune, and yet Figure Of Victory survived again.

All in all, this exhibit on the man and his impact on Paris was enlightening and fascinating. The city and the country was changed forever because of him, and we can't imagine what France would be like today had there never been a Napoleon Bonaparte. 

Tomorrow I'll start showing you another special exhibit that was going on here at the Museum.


  1. I saw the title and immediately thought of that old novelty song, Waterloo!

    Interesting post.

  2. I thought of the old song "Waterloo" as well, when I saw the title, William, and I also thought of the city of Waterloo. :)

  3. An intriguing range of Napoleonic memorabilia. I find the death mask just a tad creepy. Interesting that the mask seems to be all shiny black.

  4. He certainly was a complicated character William, the death mask is fascinating, I would be interested to see it!

  5. I'd love to see all of these paintings and artifacts. I don't care much about Nappy, but I'm fascinated by what he did and what he meant to France and especially, to Paris.

  6. @Linda: and I thought of the James Bond line: "he met his Waterloo."

    @Linda: both apply.

    @Marleen: it was.

    @Gemma: it is macabre.

    @Grace: very complicated!

    @Lowell: I thoroughly enjoyed this.

    @Beth: me too.

  7. I would love to see that exhibit.


  8. Napoleon has never been here in person, but a lot of young Frisians died in his army in terrible circumstances.

  9. I recently saw a "Globe Trekker" episode about St. Helena. He spent his final years on one of the most remote places on the planet with a girl who served as his maid and called him "Boney".

  10. Thanks for the info that the show was over!

  11. Your last paragraph sums things up very well.There's a lot of stuff on Napoleon.

  12. @Janis: alas, this was the only North American stop. I imagine now the collection gets dispersed back to their original locations, since the Carnavalet already had the exhibit in France.

    @Jan: his footprint was all over the continent, and beyond.

    @Cloudia: thanks!

    @Sharon: that I didn't know!

    @RedPat: yes, it would have been problematic for your friend to find out it was already closed. I think the other one of the two major exhibits also closed at the same time.

    @Red: there is!

    @Whisk: thanks!

  13. Great exhibit! Though I didn't go in, I found his tomb in Paris pretty extravagant from the outside. But many buildings in Paris are extravagant.

  14. Happy New Year first to you. I am glad I am back. Have I missed some terrific pictures from you. Wow some winter we are having.
    I will be back to look at more on weekend of yours. I just got into Facebook and my Hotmail. Learning to get about with my laptop. I so love it.

  15. Such a great exhibit. I enjoyed seeing and reading about it. Thanks William for a nice presentation!

  16. Jos├ęphine de Beauharnais--what a name!

  17. It makes you wonder what Paris and France would be like if he had not invaded Russia.

  18. @Kay: that's to be expected.

    @Carolann: thank you.

    @Bill: you're welcome.

    @Revrunner: indeed.

    @Mari: it would have been quite different. I like what if questions like that.

    @Norma: that it was.

    @Jennifer: I think you'd have enjoyed it.