Work in Progress > The restoration of the Napoleonic monuments at Les Invalides

  • © Fondation Napoléon / Rebecca Young
  • © Fondation Napoléon / Rebecca Young
  • © Fondation Napoléon / Rebecca Young
  • © Fondation Napoléon / Rebecca Young
  • © Fondation Napoléon / Rebecca Young
  • © Fondation Napoléon / Rebecca Young
  • © Fondation Napoléon / Rebecca Young
  • © Fondation Napoléon / Rebecca Young
  • © Fondation Napoléon / Rebecca Young
  • © Fondation Napoléon / Rebecca Young

 

In May last year, the Fondation Napoléon launched an appeal with the Musée de l’Armée, to raise the 800,000 euros needed to clean and restore Napoleon’s tomb and the other napoleonic monuments including those dedicated to his brothers Joseph and Jérôme at the Hôtel National des Invalides. Thanks to the overwhelming generosity of the public as well as other institutions, there now remains a little less than 65,000 euros to collect. The restoration work is well underway.

At the end of October, just days before lock-down was announced here in France, a select few (major donors) were invited to a night-time private view of the work in progress led by sculpture restorer Claire Brière, and Sylvie le Ray-Burimi (Responsable du Département des Beaux-Arts et Patrimoine au Musée de l’Armée). Below are a few pictures taken on that occasion.

A large part of the restoration work consists of cleaning the monuments, constructed of various different materials: marble, gilded bronze, which have become encrusted with dust or tarnished over the years. Certain discoveries were even made during the cleaning process such as the presence of silver leaf work on the tomb of General Duroc. The large amount of gilt work, in particular in the Chapelle Saint Jérôme, is arguably the most visible part to have recovered its former splendour. The inscription of Napoleon’s famous dying wish (“I wish that my mortal remains may repose on the banks of the Seine, surrounded by the French people that I loved so much”) above the entrance to the crypt, is now visible again. The sculpted figures in the crypt are currently being cleaned, and Napoleon’s tomb itself has just been completed, and it now shines like a mirror!

However, there’s still work to be done, notably the restoration of the ornate marble and enamel floor surrounding Napoleon’s tomb which is for the moment concealed by a protective sheet (see photos). The fund-raising appeal will close on 1 February 2021, you can still help to make sure the Napoleonic monuments are ready in time for the Bicentenary on 5 May 2021!

12 November 2020