Napoleon is no more


Title in French: Napoléon n’est plus

From Napoleon’s death on 5 May 1821 on St Helena to his exhumation, including the making of the death mask, the autopsy, the exhibition of the body, the burial… the sequence of events is precisely known to the minute. It is as if all those who were on St Helena at the time of his death were acutely aware that they were living a moment of history. In December 1840, at the time of the repatriation of the Emperor’s mortal remains, the process was repeated and amplified…

However, despite the abundance of memoirs, letters, sketches, relics and stories, this history still includes poorly understood areas, uncertainties, contradictions… Hypotheses, theories, assertions and controversies flourish: what exactly did Napoleon die of? Did he really die on St Helena? Was the body of another person substituted for his? The very existence of these hypotheses – especially their persistence – demonstrates that, from the day of his death, Napoleon was no longer his own. Transfigured, he became an archetype, a constituent element of the collective unconscious.

The Fondation Napoléon loaned 23 works for this exhibition. Among them, Napoleon’s death mask (INV 1179), Napoleon’s dental hygiene kit (INV 286), Napoleon I’s collar buckle worn at St Helena (INV 76) and the reliquary of St Helena (INV 848).

This exhibition was part of the label « 2021 Année Napoléon ».

Place : Musée de l’Armée, Hôtel des Invalides, Paris
Dates : 31 March -31 October 2021
Curators : Pierre Branda, Léa Charliquart, Chantal Prévot, Emilie Robbe
Set Design :  Agence d’architecture Philippe Pumain
Attendance :  45 000 visitors