Bicentenary of the death of the Emperor: Commemorations around Napoleon

Find out more about talks, exhibitions and shows around the figure of Napoleon in 2021

Nota Bene - Covid

The bicentenary of the Emperor's death has been more publicised than his death in 1821. Passed almost unnoticed in the midst of the Restoration, its remembrance today marks the end of a commemorative cycle begun in 1969 by the Fondation Napoléon. The year 2021 will therefore be resoundingly ‘Bonaparte’! Talks, exhibitions and visits will be organized at the Château de Fontainebleau and at Rueil-Malmaison where he lived, in Corsica where he was born, as well as in various places in Paris, Imperial towns and cities, and even abroad.

At Fontainebleau

Château de Fontainebleau - Le Grand Parterre, Paris

The Château de Fontainebleau, where Napoleon resided and where Napoleon signed his famous abdication, will for several months become the scene of numerous permanent and one-off events:

From January to December 2021, a didactic itinerary ‘Napoleon I’s Fontainebleau’ in the chateau and gardens. Each month, a work is shown in digital format on the theme: ‘The Emperor seen through the collections of the chateau’. Finally, during the school holidays, dramatized visits on the theme of the First Empire are organized.

In March, Thomas Hengelbrock and the Ensemble Balthazar Neumann celebrate Napoleon and music through triumphal symphonies and funeral marches. The weekend of 17 and 18 April is devoted to historic recreations. In May, Thomas Hengelbrock and the Ensemble Balthazar Neumann return with music on the theme of Napoleon and Egypt.

On 7 May, a performance at the Théâtre de Fontainebleau ‘Napoleon, Fontainebleau night’ will be given by the company Intersignes, then, on 21 May, two performances of ‘Chanoine de Milan’ by the Théâtre des Grognards.

On 18, 19 and 20 May, a symposium at the Seine-et-Marne county archives is organized about ‘The Seine-et-Marne and Napoleon: intimacy, power, memories’.

From 14 September and until 4 January 2022, the exhibition ‘A palace for the Emperor. Napoleon at Fontainebleau’ is presented.

In October, ‘Saint-Hubert’ [the chateau’s patron saint of hunting] is on the theme of Imperial hunting.  

In Paris

Affiche L'exposition Napoléon, Grande Halle de la Villette, Paris

Paris is also playing host to many celebrations in symbolic places to highlight known and less known aspects of the Emperor:

The Fondation Dosne-Thiers is offering several talks organized by the Fondation Napoléon’s Cercle d’Etudes: Pierre Branda on 19 January for ‘Napoleon at St-Hélène, between hope and tragedy’, Jacques-Olivier Boudon on 9 February for ‘Napoleon and women’, Patrice Gueniffey on 16 March for ‘Napoleon and the sea’, Charles-Eloi Vial on 13 April for ‘the unpublished archives of the One Hundred Days’, Thierry Lentz on 25 May for ‘For Napoleon’, and Jean Tulard on 8 June for ‘How to get rich under Napoleon’.

From 10 March to 28 June, the Archives Nationales present an exhibition on the theme: ‘Drawing for Napoleon. The Masterpieces of the Imperial State Secretariat’.

On 12 March, the Bibliothèque Nationale de France is hosting a study day ‘Napoleon and public Education’ with Jacques-Olivier Bourdon and Thierry Lentz.

From 31 March to 19 September, the Musée de l’Armée presents the exhibition ‘Napoleon is no more’, then on 7 and 8 April, a symposium by the Fondation Napoleon and the Fondation Dosne-Thiers. From 7 May to 31 December, a contemporary art circuit evokes ‘Napoleon? Again!’ Finally, on 19 and 20 May, the concerts ‘Triumphs of Napoleon’ are performed in the St Louis des Invalides cathedral.

From 14 April to 19 September 2021, the Grande Halle de la Villette presents ‘Napoleon’, an exhibition with an immersive layout that brings together more than 150 original pieces emblematic of Napoleon Bonaparte and the Empire style that marked the decorative arts.

From 8 April to 12 June, the Maison Chaumet presents the exhibition ‘Josephine & Napoleon, an (extra)ordinary story’, whilst from 24 June to 31 July, the company Intersignes stages performances of ‘Napoleon. Fontainebleau night’ at the Folie Théâtre.

From 16 September 2021 to 6 March 2022, the Musée de la Monnaie de Paris is presenting an exhibition ‘In the footsteps of Napoleon at the Monnaie de Paris’ and the Mobilier National welcomes the exhibition ‘Napoleon’s lost palaces’ from September 2021 to February 2022.

And also …

Château de Vincennes - Donjon, Paris

In Vincennes, the Service Historique de la Défense is organizing reading nights in 2021. ‘Re-reading the world’ from 21 to 24 January, through the words of Napoleon’s soldiers (digital content). Then, on 15 September, a Study Day on ‘Control of the territory and representation’.

In Rueil-Malmaison, three exhibitions can be seen at the Musée National: ‘At the table of Josephine’ from 6 to 11 April, then ‘The Emperor’s true face’ from 5 May to 7 September and, finally, ‘Josephine’s dresses and beyond’ from 18 September to 19 October.  

In Yerres, the exhibition ‘Martin Guillaume Biennais, the gold/silversmith of Napoleon’ will be shown at the Caillebotte property from 29 May to 3 October.