Marking the bicentenary of his death, the Napoléon exhibition explores the unlikely story of a complex character who was at once admired and controversial, victorious and conquered, heroic and tragic; a dramatic story that continues to fascinate our contemporaries to this day. It will highlight his political and cultural legacies that have profoundly impacted certain countries, chief among them France, as well as the mistakes he made.
►From the historical character to the private man: every facet of his life
This exhibition is built around the following themes: the formative years at the Brienne military school; the campaigns in Italy (1796) and Egypt (1799); the Coup of 18 Brumaire and the Consulate; the emergence of the Empire; Napoleon the private man, his women, Josephine then Marie-Louise, his legitimate son, King of Rome; Napoleon, the military leader; Napoleon and Europe, at the head of which he placed his brothers and sisters; the decline of the Empire, illustrated by two military failures, the Spanish campaign (1808) and the Russian campaign (1812); the Hundred Days and his final fall after the Battle of Waterloo. Prestigious guests will give talks on various subjects, bringing an additional perspective to that of the curators.
Themes include morals and religion, explored by Jacques-Olivier Boudon, the exercise of power with Thierry Lentz and the life and death of soldiers with François Houdecek. A short film by Mathieu Glissant will be screened in a section of the exhibition on the re-establishment of slavery.
►The arts and court life through a host of masterpieces
Spectacular reconstitutions will showcase the arts and court life in an era that, though brief at just fifteen years, would have a lasting impact on the decorative arts. Following the Egyptian campaign, pieces of furniture and objets d’art designed in the Egyptian style will be presented, while another room will illustrate the way style evolved at the height of the Empire. A throne room stands alongside a table laid with the most opulent productions. These spaces will be complemented by magnificent court garments, weapons of luxury, decorations, Sèvres porcelain, a selection of goldsmithery and even a monumental carriage commissioned for his marriage to Marie-Louise, as well as the humblest funereal carriage used for his burial on Saint Helena.
Added to these are some of the Emperor’s personal items, as well as the spectacular campaign tent with its original furnishings. War will not be absent either, with a cannon, an ammunition crate, several mannequins and a giant screen with a projection of one of the most famous cavalry charges in the history of France, at the Battle of Eylau. Not to mention the many sculptures that will accompany paintings by the greatest painters of the era, such as David, Gros and Gérard.
►Read an interview with one of the curators Arthur Chevallier: “Napoleon is not just linked to political history; he can also be a role-model” (napoleon.org January 2021)
Exhibition co-produced by the Réunion des musées nationaux – Grand Palais, La Villette and Re Re / Adonis, with the particularly generous participation of the Musée de l’Armée, the Musée national du château de Fontainebleau, the Musée du Louvre, the Musée national des châteaux de Malmaison and Bois-Préau, the Mobilier national, the Fondation Napoléon and with the exceptional contribution of the Musée national des châteaux de Versailles et de Trianon.
Bernard Chevallier, Honorary Chief Heritage Curator;
Arthur Chevallier, author and publisher;
Frédéric Lacaille, Chief Curator in charge of 19th century paintings at the Châteaux of Versailles and Trianon;
Grégory Spourdos, Deputy Head of the Department of Exhibitions and Museography and Head of the Museography Centre at the Musée de l’Armée;
Hélène Cavalié, Chief Heritage Curator and Deputy Director of Collections at the Mobilier National;
Jean-Baptiste Clais, Curator, Department of Decorative arts, Musée du Louvre;
Christophe Beyeler, Chief Heritage Curator in charge of the Musée Napoléon I and the Napoleonic collection of graphic arts at the Château de Fontainebleau.
Exhibition design: joint design by Scénografia – VNT architectes – Hilighting Design – Lundi 8 – Graphica.
Grande Halle de La Villette
211 Avenue Jean Jaurès
Everyday from 10am to 7pm
20 €, 15 € for 8-25 years
free for 0-7 years
metro line 5 Porte de Pantin
tramway 3b Porte de Pantin
bus 75, 151 Porte de Pantin
south parking Cité de la Musique
01 40 03 75 75
Information and reservations: expo-napoleon.fr (in French)
Press Release including a sneak preview of some of the treasures on show.