On 22 June 1815, in the wake of his defeat at Waterloo, Napoleon Bonaparte abdicated at the Elysée Palace. 200 hundred years after the end of the First Empire the exhibition Napoleon and Paris: Dreams of a Capital at the Musée Carnavalet explores the complex relationship between a remarkable man and one of the world's most beautiful cities. Paris shaped Napoleon as much as Napoleon transformed Paris: during the Revolution Napoleon realised that public opinion could be manipulatedand that power was to be seized in the capital. Paris then became the theatre for the key moments in his political career: the coup d'état of 18 Brumaire (9 November 1799), the coronation, the marriage to Marie-Louise, the birth of his son and the second abdication.The city of the emperor's dreams was a new Rome full of splendid monuments, some completed and others merely roughed out: the Vendôme column, the Stock Exchange, the Châtelet Fountain, the Temple of Glory, the two arcs de triomphe at the Carrousel and the Etoile. Some of these dreams never left the drawing board, among them the highly popular Elephant of the Bastille and the palaces of the King of Rome, the archives and Orsay. A multimedia system lets visitors home in on these major sites in Napoleon's Paris. Bent on efficiency and the maintaining of order, the emperor also gave the capital numerous public amenities – bridges, canals, fountains, markets, abattoirs and cemeteries – which brought real change to Parisians' daily existence.An able administrator as well as a general, Napoleon set up an organisational system for the city that would last two centuries, including the offices of Prefect, chief of police and the Seine département council. Paris thus became the hub of the political, diplomatic and social life of the "Grand Empire" and a magnet for the élites of the New Europe. The pomp of life at the Tuileries Palace, refurbished by the architects Percier and Fontaine, is illustrated by the everyday luxury and elegance of the imperial court and its people: Josephine, Marie-Louise, the King of Rome, Napoleon's brothers and sisters, and the dignitaries and courtiers. The ambience of the period is vividly conjured up with furnishings, costumes and accessories.The Paris landscapes painted by Bouhot, Boilly and Hubert Robert, the models, plans and drawings from the workshops of Percier, Fontaine and Brongniart, the remnants of monuments of the past, and a host of caricatures – all these add up to an unrivalled evocation of the Empire Style and Napoleonic urban planning.Here works from the Musée Carnavalet dialogue with loans from other institutions, among them the Fondation Napoléon, the Palais Galliera, the Musée du Louvre, the châteaux of Compiègne, Fontainebleau, Versailles and Malmaison, and private collectors.
At the same time, as part of its "Napoleon Season", the Musée Carnavalet – Histoire de Paris is presenting the exhibition Paris-Vienna: 1814–1815, organised by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
16 rue Francs-Bourgeois - 75003 Paris
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