Waiting for the Emperor: Archaeological and Urban Monuments in Napoleon’s Rome 1809-1814

Exhibition
from 19/12/2019 to 31/05/2020
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Waiting for the Emperor: Archaeological and Urban Monuments in Napoleon’s Rome 1809-1814 [Aspettando l’Imperatore: Monumenti Archeologia e Urbanistica nella Roma di Napoleone 1809-1814] aims to bring Napoleon’s Rome to life through the presentation of 50 pieces – some little-known, others never seen before in public – from the collections of the Napoleonic Museum and the Museum of Rome at Palazzo Braschi.

Waiting for the Emperor: Archaeological and Urban Monuments in Napoleon’s Rome 1809-1814
Project for a triumphal arch in honour of Emperor Napoleon, watercolour on paper, Napoleonic Museum (inv. MN 3359)

In 1808 Rome was occupied by the French army. The following year, the city was annexed and declared the second city of the Napoleonic Empire after Paris. The emperor’s son was given the title “King of Rome”, and for five years Rome waited for an Emperor who would never arrive.

The exhibition is divided into four sections:
1) Napoleon’s Rome
2) Roman celebrations for the birth of the King of Rome
3) Archaeological excavations
4) The face of the city

On display are the grand designs for new monuments and plans for urban renewal projects that were intended to characterise the new imperial Rome under Napoleon, most of which never materialised. The plans involved Roman architects such as Camporese, Valadier and Stern, and French architects such as Berthault and Gisors.

The pieces make a strong visual impression with their large format and painstaking attention to detail. They are the product of a short period of great creative effervescence, and bear testimony to the French intentions to modernise and secularise the city, while at the same time enhancing its thousand-year-old heritage of history and art.

Visitor information

Free admission

Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday 10 am – 6 pm.

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