After the Battle of Waterloo, Napoleon's defeat was compounded by the theft of his berlines and carriages, containing not only his personal effects (such as his hat and grey overcoat) but also a large collection of silverware and medals. The story of these items, which changed hands on numerous occasions between the battlefield and their eventual homes in some of the grandest museums in London, Berlin, Moscow and France, and their journey is retold in this exhibition at the Musée de la Légion d'honneur et des ordres de chevalerie. In the chaos of the battle's aftermath, the emperor's personal transports - specially designed to meet his needs on campaign with a travel library, writing desk and full bed and mattress - were pillaged by Prussian forces. The "sleeper" carriage, a six-horse berline designed for long distances, was claimed by Major von Keller, and placed on display in London in 1816. It was subsequently lost in the fire that engulfed Madame Tussaud's in 1925.
Visitors to the exhibition will however be able to admire Napoleon's beautiful state landau, another carriage that disappeared from the battlefield in 1815 only to resurface years later in the hands of Count Blücher von Wahlstatt, a descendant of the feldmarschall, who donated it to Malmaison. Certain items from the emperor's personal inventory, such as his decorations of the Russian Order of St Andrew and the Spanish Order of the Golden Fleece - loans from the State Historical Museum in Moscow - will also be on display in France for the first time. The Fondation Napoléon is a partner in this exhibition and has donated a number of objects from its own collection, including Napoleon's nécessaire dentaire.
7 March - 8 July 2012
Musée national de la Légion d'honneur et des ordres de chevalerie
2 rue de la Légion d'honneur
Wednesday - Sunday: 1pm - 6pm
Tuesday: groups only (reservation required)
Closed Mondays and 1 May.
Opening times are provided purely for reference. The Fondation Napoléon offers no guarantee as to the accuracy of this information. Consultation with the institution before visiting is recommended.
Click here for further information (external link in French).