Presented for the first time in North America and exclusively at the Canadian Museum of History, Napoleon and Paris takes visitors to the heart of the fascinating relationship between an emperor and the city of his dreams.
From June 16, 2016 to January 8, 2017, over 250 artifacts will be displayed, providing an exclusive look at the many ways in which Napoleon Bonaparte’s extraordinary life was inextricably linked to Paris, and how the two shaped each other in profound and lasting ways.
Adapted from an exhibition developed by the Musée Carnavalet – Histoire de Paris and Paris Musées, Napoleon and Paris was presented in Paris in 2015, two centuries after the fall of Napoleon’s Empire.
“The Canadian Museum of History is pleased to collaborate with the Musée Carnavalet and Paris Musées to bring Canadians this story about the complex relationship between a legendary man and one of the most beautiful cities in the world,” said Jean-Marc Blais, the Museum of History’s Director General. “The exhibition, the largest the Museum has developed in collaboration with France, gives a comprehensive look at Paris during the Napoleonic era and helps us appreciate Napoleon’s legacy, and satisfy our curiosity about his fascinating personality.”
There is a reason why Napoleon asked to be buried on the banks of the Seine. Paris was the theatre for the key moments in his life. It was in Paris that he completed his studies, that he distinguished himself as a military commander during the dark days of the French Revolution, and that he seized power and became First Consul and, ultimately, Emperor of the French. It was also in Paris, after the battle of Waterloo in 1815, that he abdicated.
In turn, Napoleon set out to reshape Paris into the glittering capital of Europe. He created monuments, buildings and public amenities that forever altered Parisians’ daily lives and the layout of their city. He set up his own administrative structure, elements of which remain to this day. He reinstated the court at the Tuileries Palace, and the luxury of the imperial court became a magnet for the elites of Europe, making Paris the hub of political, diplomatic and social life of the Empire.
The selection of artifacts in this exhibition will give visitors an unparalleled look at Napoleon and Napoleonic France. The elegance of the period is vividly conjured with personal objects, furnishings, costumes and accessories. The featured artifacts, such as Napoleon’s camp bed, throne and bicorne hat, as well as a bust from the Musée du Louvre, will highlight Napoleon’s military prowess, the luxury enjoyed by the Emperor’s inner circle, the savoir-faire of Parisian artisans and the everyday lives of Parisians. Paintings, models and architectural drawings, like the designs for the Elephant Fountain (Place de la Bastille) and Napoleon I Viewing the Staircase of the Louvre, Accompanied by Architects Percier and Fontaine, by Louis-Charles-Auguste Couder, will reveal Napoleon’s ambitious dream of turning Paris into the capital of Europe.
Napoleon and Paris is presented from June 16, 2016 to January 8, 2017 and is complemented by a souvenir catalogue published by the Museum of History. The exhibition is produced by the Musée Carnavalet – Histoire de Paris, Paris Musées and the Canadian Museum of History.