The treasure of imperial conquests

The treasure of imperial conquests


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  • The entry into Paris of works intended for the Napoleon Museum.

    BERANGER Antoine (1785 - 1867)

  • The entry into Paris of works intended for the Napoleon Museum (detail).

    BERANGER Antoine (1785 - 1867)

  • The entry into Paris of works intended for the Napoleon Museum (detail).

    BERANGER Antoine (1785 - 1867)

To close

Title: The entry into Paris of works intended for the Napoleon Museum.

Author : BERANGER Antoine (1785 - 1867)

Creation date : 1813

Date shown: 1798

Dimensions: Height 120 - Width 0

Technique and other indications: Vase in Etruscan shape with rollers. Hard porcelain. Production site: Sèvres factory

Storage location: National Museum of Ceramics of Sèvres website

Contact copyright: © RMN-Grand Palais (Sèvres, City of ceramics) / Christian Jean / Jacques L'hoir

Picture reference: 76-000488 / MNC 1823

The entry into Paris of works intended for the Napoleon Museum.

© RMN-Grand Palais (Sèvres, City of ceramics) / Christian Jean / Jacques L'hoir

To close

Title: The entry into Paris of works intended for the Napoleon Museum (detail).

Author : BERANGER Antoine (1785 - 1867)

Creation date : 1813

Date shown: 1798

Dimensions: Height 120 - Width 0

Technique and other indications: (Le Laocoon) - Etruscan-shaped vase with rollers. Hard porcelain. Production site: Sèvres factory

Storage location: National Museum of Ceramics of Sèvres website

Contact copyright: © Photo RMN-Grand Palais - C. Jean

Picture reference: 81-000750 / MNC 1823

The entry into Paris of works intended for the Napoleon Museum (detail).

© Photo RMN-Grand Palais - C. Jean

To close

Title: The entry into Paris of works intended for the Napoleon Museum (detail).

Author : BERANGER Antoine (1785 - 1867)

Creation date : 1813

Date shown: 1798

Dimensions: Height 120 - Width 0

Technique and other indications: (The Apollo of the Belvedere and the Cupid archer) - Vase in Etruscan shape with rollers. Hard porcelain. Production site: Sèvres factory

Storage location: National Museum of Ceramics of Sèvres website

Contact copyright: © Photo RMN-Grand Palais - C. Jean

Picture reference: 81EE749 / MNC 1823

The entry into Paris of works intended for the Napoleon Museum (detail).

© Photo RMN-Grand Palais - C. Jean

Publication date: March 2016

Historical context

9 thermidor year VI: "Festival of Liberty and the Arts"

Opened in 1793 by the Convention, the Muséum central des arts installed in the Louvre presented without order the few masterpieces recovered thanks to the nationalization of the property of the Crown, emigrants and the clergy. The new republic then declared itself the natural repository of works of genius, which could only be "at home" in the land of freedom. Supported by Boissy d'Anglas’s rhetoric, the Conquering Convention undertook the systematic "repatriation" of the masterpieces of the conquered countries. Paris became the "sacred repository of all human knowledge and the gathering of the most precious results of imagination and genius". On 9 Thermidor, Year VI (July 27, 1798), the works seized in Italy arrived in the Louvre in triumph.

Image Analysis

Neoclassicism to the glory of the Antiquities

On this porcelain vase, whose "Etruscan roller" shape is inspired by antique vases from the Vivant Denon collection, the painter Valois presented "the entry into Paris of works intended for the Napoleon Museum". It is in fact the evocation, in the manner of a Roman triumph, of the "Festival of Liberty and the Arts" of 1798.

In a slow and majestic frieze composition are depicted the most famous ancient sculptures which complete their journey from the Vatican collections to the Louvre. Under the protection of the soldiers, the bust of Homer enters the palace first, followed by theApollo Belvedere that carries a dashing quadriga, the Laocoon and the Venus Medici, under the admiring and amazed gazes of Parisians.

This operation is placed under the august auspices of the greatest collectors and amateurs in history, namely Pericles, Laurent de Medici and Augustus, to whom Napoleon Ier is associated. Like a kind of secondary areopagus, the collar presents a series of painted medallions in imitation of cameos and representing several figures from Antiquity.
The size of this vase (1.20 m), its rich gold decorations and the exceptional quality of the porcelain painting made it "one of the most beautiful to come out of the workshops of the manufacture", according to its director. which preserved it from destruction in 1815.

Interpretation

What works for national museums?

The arrival in Paris of these founding works of classical culture justified and amplified the already fashionable fashion of neoclassicism in the arts. It was the precise application of the double mission that the Convention had assigned to museums: to educate the peoples and to serve the glory of the Republic. The ardor shown by Bonaparte, his troops and the specialists who accompanied him to Italy (Denon, Moitte, Berthélémy or Monge) should have enabled the Parisians and then all the French to familiarize themselves with art.

This demagogic policy found opponents very early on, including Quatremère de Quincy, who was the first to criticize this counting. So there clashed the supporters of museums, places of safe conservation of works of art from all walks of life, and those of respect for the context of creation, for whom the work "lives" only in the place where it was. destiny or, at worst, in its region of creation.

Knowing, through the example of kings, the enormous political power that the possession and distribution of a brilliant collection represents in the eyes of a population or of foreign countries, the Consulate and then the First Empire endeavored to maintain or create museums open to the public across France. It was also a way of relieving the Louvre, very quickly overtaken by the incessant arrival of new works (there were 1,500 antiques there in 1801).
While the fall of the Empire resulted in the return of the seized works, the existing museum fabric and the conviction of the need to present works of art to the public continued.

  • Italian countryside
  • Louvre
  • Museum
  • neoclassicism
  • patrimony

Bibliography

COLLECTIVE, The Youth of Museums, catalog of the exhibition at the Musée d´Orsay, RMN, Paris, 1994.

Roland SCHAER, The invention of museums, Gallimard, RMN, Paris, 1993.

Marcelle BRUNET, Tamara PREAUD, Sevres. From the origins to the present day, Office du Livre, Friborg, Paris, 1978.

To cite this article

Nicolas COURTIN, "The treasure of imperial conquests"


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