Napoleon: Power and Splendor offers a fresh perspective on one of history’s most iconic figures by revealing the vast machinery underpinning his and his family’s everyday life. Spanning from Napoleon’s coronation in 1804 to his exile in 1815, the show brings together some 200 sumptuous works of fine and decorative art, many never before exhibited in the United States. Projection mapping technology summons up the atmosphere of the Imperial Household, whose elaborate functioning, heavy on etiquette, required no fewer than 3,500 employees.
Every aspect of this extravaganza was meticulously coordinated to construct a public image that combined the spirit of the Enlightenment with certain values of the Ancien Régime. Among the many highlights are the gold altarpiece created for the marriage of Napoleon and the Archduchess Marie-Louise in 1810; the imperial throne from the palace of Monte Cavallo in Rome, the second capital of the Empire from 1809 to 1814; and a monumental painting by Ingres titled The Dream of Ossian (1813), commissioned to adorn the ceiling of Napoleon’s bed chamber in that same residence.