The official introduction between Napoleon I and Marie-Louise of Austria took place at the Palais de Compiègne on 27 March, 1810. The honeymoon lasted until the end of April, and during this time Marie-Louise succeeded in keeping the Emperor settled, relaxed and occupied with music and painting.
The exhibition begins with the new empress' arrival in Compiègne, from the farewells on the Austrian border to the first dinner served in her apartments. The pomp and grandeur of the religious and civil marriage ceremonies of 1 and 2 April, 1810, receive careful attention, as do the implications of the union themselves. As well as being an alliance to satisfy Napoleon's dynastic desires, this marriage into the oldest reigning imperial family in Europe was also seen as an attempt to reconcile the two empires, for so long at each other's throat. This marriage saw in a short period of peace, resulting in numerous artistic commissions, some of which are on display in the exhibition.
Numerous institutions, both national and international, have lent items to the exhibition, including the Louvre, the Châteaux de Versailles and de Fontainebleau, the Fondation Napoléon and the Fondation Dosne-Thiers, as well as others from Italy, Switzerland and Germany.
28 March - 19 July, 2010
Musée national du château de Compiègne
Place du Général de Gaulle
Click here for further information (external link in French).
Gérard, The Empress Marie-Louise © RMN