The Emperor’s House

On 30 April 2019, by Marie-Laure Castelnau
Imperial manufactory of Sèvres and Jacques François Joseph Swebach (1769-1823), bowl and saucer given to the Comtesse de Montalivet, 1811, hard-paste porcelain, h. 12.5 and 22.2 cm, Château de Fontainebleau.
© RMN-Grand Palais (château de Fontainebleau)

The idea here is to pay homage to a collection of Napoleon’s objects that a passionate Canadian businessman and philanthropist gave the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts 10 years ago. After touring Quebec and the United States, the show will make one last stop in the restored Salle de la Belle Cheminée at the Château de Fontainebleau. What better setting could be imagined for the end of the journey? The day before his 1804 coronation, Napoleon made Fontainebleau one of his residences and ordered it refurbished. The newly crowned sovereign surrounded himself with a “house” of devoted officers and faithful servants responsible for organising his public and private life and ensuring the glory of his regime. Like the King’s court in the Ancien Régime, it was a political tool. Nearly 100 outstanding works – portraits, ceremonial garments and lavish art objects, including some that have never been seen before, such as a bust portrait of the Emperor in its original frame – beckon visitors to explore life at Napoleon’s court, the opulence of the imperial palaces and the senior civil servants surrounding the reigning family. Not all the items exhibited on previous tours are in the show, but it presents 25 new pieces, including 15 recently acquired by Fontainebleau, such as this vase from the imperial manufactory of Sèvres decorated by Pierre-Nolasque Bergeret (1782-1863) with two scenes featuring "Napoleon, Miracle Worker". Visitors can complete their immersion into the heart of imperial power by touring the Grands Appartements and, of course, the Napoleon I Museum, renovated last year.

"The Emperor’s House: Serving and Glorifying Napoleon I", to 15 July 2019,
Palace of Fontainebleau.
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