The Allure of Napoleon
28 January – 19 March 2017
The museum draws on its extensive archive of material pertaining to the Napoleonic era to consider the life and times of the French Emperor.
Thanks to the fascination of its founders John and Joséphine Bowes in society under the political and military leader Napoleon, the Bowes Museum is rich with artefacts that tell of this particular period in French history. A fitting start to the institution’s 125th anniversary celebrations, this exhibition charts the rise and fall of the complex figure and his impact on Europe.
Four thematic sections make up the display, from prints that present Napoleon as a political mover and shaker to portraits exploring connections between wider occupied Europe; paintings that tell of a changing high society in France and British military medals following the Battle of Waterloo in 1815.
Displayed at the Paris Salon of 1814, Étienne-Jean Delécluze’s theatrical painting of the first Roman Emperor Augustus rebuking Cinna for his treacherous plans to kill him is one of the most outstanding pieces in the Bowes Museum’s permanent collection. It is presented as the centrepiece of the exhibition to highlight the uncertain loyalties preceding Napoleon’s devastating failure at Waterloo the following year.