Save the Drawings and Plans made for Napoleon I

  • Project for the Palace of Science and Arts (Palais des Sciences et Arts) in Holland, AF/IV/1829 Pièce 34 © AN
  • Fortifications on the Rhine near Mainz AF/IV/1166 Dossier 1 F° 111 bis © AN
  • Example of a document requiring restoration: Plan of the bay at Toulon AF/IV/1206 Dossier 3 F°5 © AN
  • 'La colera' de Napoleon', Spanish caricature translated into French for Napoleon AF/IV/1614 © AN
  • Presentation to the Emperor of the signals used by the British Royal Navy, obtained by the French secret service AF/IV/1189 Dossier 2 F° 222 © AN
  • Project for a flying boat AF/IV/1955 Pièce 33 (VI) © AN
  • Silhouettes of Amerindians sent to Napoleon by a traveller in 1804 AF/IV/1681/A © AN
  • Project for a Monument dedicated to the Grande Armée [intersection of the transept and apse] AF/IV/1955 Pièce 12 (J) © AN

Save the drawings and plans made for Napoleon I

The French national archives (Archives Nationales, AN) and the Fondation Napoléon have joined forces to restore and make available to the general public the little-known treasures held amongst the Imperial State Secretariat papers, namely: the 1,800 plans, drawings and maps presented to Napoleon to enable his decision making, whether for decrees, bills or studies requiring his signature.

We here at the Fondation are launching an international appeal to raise the funds needed to match those already allocated by the Archives Nationales.

A priceless archive

Amongst the dozens of dossiers which landed on the Emperor’s desk each day, there were many plans, drawings and maps specially drawn up to assist the head of state in his decision making. A good few of these were created by some of the greatest artists and architects of the period, namely, David and Isabey, the engraver Denon and the architects Fontaine and Valadier, to mention but the best known.
These documents were associated with their relevant dossiers and handed over to the French Archives Nationales in 1849 along with the entire body of State Secretariat papers. Some were made on delicate materials such as tracing paper, and others bear annotations, some even in the Emperor’s hand. Just consulting the documents exposes them to physical damage.

A huge variety of documents

Up to the present day, the inventories for these documents have offered scant details, and individual items have therefore been hard for researchers to access. The detailed inventory is currently being compiled. This initial inventory work has revealed that there are more than 1,800 plans, drawings and maps, about 370 of which require restoration, including: plans of towns and buildings; maps delineating the boundaries of territories, the contours of networks, and the extent of exploration missions; plans for industrial and technical installations; inventions made by civilian and military engineers; projects for fortifications; drawings of medals and uniforms? etc.

Aims of the operation

There are three principal aims:

– immediate restoration of the documents in the worst physical condition;
– digitisation of the ensemble of documents and placing them online;
systematic study of this exceptional collection of documents.

Appeal target: 250,000 euros for the restoration and preservation of this priceless collection.
For the launch of the appeal, the Fondation Napoléon pledged to support the operation with a heritage grant of 25,000 euros.

As a result of its previous fund-raising expertise (The project to restore the French National Domains on St Helena, and the appeal for the restoration of the uniform Napoleon wore at Waterloo, etc.) and because of its excellent worldwide reputation, the Fondation Napoléon will manage the public appeal side of the operation.

What will your donations be used for?

– to help the Archives Nationales in their campaign, notably by funding external restoration specialists;
– to facilitate the extremely challenging issues related to the digitisation of the maps, plans and drawings : for example, some of the plans are several metres long;
– to allow some of the restored items to be stored in custom-built containers;
– to publicise the existence of this extraordinary archival collection and to stimulate research in all forms possible (articles, publications of different sorts, exhibitions, etc).

Your donation

Supporting the restoration of the drawings and plans made for Napoleon is a way of taking part in a great project of general interest that preserves French national heritage and makes an important piece of our common history available for future generations.
Each donation made by tax payers in France brings with it tax advantages.
Since the Fondation Napoléon has French registered charity status (the decree recognising the institution as “d’utilité publique” was published on 12 November, 1987), all donations made to it, whether individual or corporate, are tax deductible:
– For private individuals*: 66% of the value of a donation can be deducted from your tax bill, up to a limit of 20% of your annual tax liabilities. The relevant tax receipt will be sent to all such donors. For example: if you give 1,000 euros, you get a deduction of 660 euros from your tax bill.
Donations made in the context of ISF (French solidarity tax on wealth) provide a 75% tax rebate, up to a limit of 50,000 euros (this limit is reached when you make a donation of 66,666 euros). For example: if you give 1,000 euros, you get a deduction of 750 euros from your ISF tax bill).
– For corporate donations*: 60% of the value of a donation can be deducted from your tax bill, up to a limit of 5 for 1,000 of the total.

You can make your donation directly online on our site by clicking here.

You can make a donation by cheque by downloading the document here, and returning it completed by post, accompanied by your donation.

Each donor will receive a donor’s certificate attesting to his (or her) donation. Major donors (whose donations are equal to or greater than € 1,000) will also receive a medal specially minted on the occasion of this subscription.

Finally, donors will be offered private visits to the conservation workshops and depositories of the National Archives and invitations to various events organized by the National Archives or the Fondation Napoléon.

* As part of tax returns made to the French administration.

Press release (in French) by the Archives Nationales.

15 September 2017


Les partners of the International Appeal

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  • Ministère de la Culture
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