The exhibition was created on the basis of the private collection of Moscow State University professor Alexander Vikhrov, who owns the most significant collection in Russia, reflecting Napoleon’s personality, moments of life and accomplishment, victory and defeat, real events and myths. The exhibition features more than two hundred and fifty works of painting, drawing, sculpture, decorative and applied arts, as well as memorial items, weapons, memorable medals. Lovers of history could see a whole series of rare objects from the beginning of the 19th century, which recreate the images and surroundings of the iconic figures of world history.
In the new exhibition project, the French emperor appears as a living person, a native of the people, and a hero out of time. The exposition is designed to recreate how different peoples felt, understood, experienced and perceived the very personality of Bonaparte. Documentary evidence and subjects related to everyday life or the embodiment of folk legends make a more extensive panorama of the Napoleon myth, which continues to spread today.
The exposition shows the stages of Bonaparte’s elevation to the status of the first person of the state against the background of artifacts that can represent the style and spirit of that time. Here is a mosaic of objects of French, Italian, German and Russian origin, which were produced in the Napoleonic period, shortly after its fall, and are closely associated with the name of the emperor and his entire family. Thanks to everyday things – cups, palace utensils, clocks – you can see what sometimes escapes the scientist’s gaze, understand how military victories and defeats were evaluated, how ancient heroes became contemporaries, glorifying the winners in allegorical form.
The exhibition shows the theme of the Treaty of Tilsit and related events, when a new stage in relations between France and Russia takes place, which is crowned by the meeting of two emperors. How many hopes both parties placed on this can be judged by the numerous plots that this event found in works of painting, graphics, on porcelain and in bronze. In the center are two emperors: Alexander I and Napoleon I. Visitors are asked to reflect on how incredible and surprising the intersection of their life lines are. In Tilsit, and a year later – in Erfurt, there is the topic of an opportunity to consolidate the peace of the two countries by kinship. Napoleon was married alternately to the two sisters of Alexander I. Negative answers deeply hurt him.
History, as they say, does not know the subjunctive mood. But after more than two hundred years, one may ask, what could be the picture of the world order, if then a dynastic marriage took place? The ambitious refusal of the Romanov family meant one thing for the rejected groom: a head-on collision with Russia is inevitable. Ahead was a war, the price of which is known – a million human lives. Of course, these events of the march to Moscow and its completion were reflected in the exhibition, because it was Russia that became the scene of the most important, tragic events of that era. Here is the beginning of the collapse of the great empire of Napoleon, his foreign policy and all his plans.
The war with Napoleon was the main event of Russian history of the 19 century, but it had a strange result. In Russia, the cult of Napoleon intensified, and the traditional love of French culture increased immensely. This is told at the end of the exhibition.
The exhibition is open: Wednesday-Friday 2.00 pm – 8.00 pm, Saturday 2.00 pm – 7.00 pm