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Napoleon: Art and Life in the Imperial Court

When First Consul Napoleon Bonaparte took the title of Emperor of the French in 1804, the newly created Imperial Household installed a vast crew to organize the day-to-day life of the Bonaparte family as well as conceive and produce the spectacle of power and splendor. Only a decade after the abolition of the Royal Bourbon monarchy that was intended to create a perpetual Republic, the household took clear inspiration from the Ancien regime Royal Household of Versailles, surrounding the newly established Emperor with a numerous personnel of high courtiers, committed artists, manufactories and craftsmen as well as a hierarchy of servants.

This talk will highlight the purposes and functions of the different departments of the household and illustrate their part in the flourishing of court life and ideology of the Napoleonic regime.

Event Timeline

5:30-6:30 p.m.: Mansion and Fabergé Rediscovered open for self-guided touring
6-6:30 p.m.: Wine and cheese reception
6:30-7:30 p.m.: Lecture
7:30 p.m. Book Signing. Napoleon: The Imperial Household is available for purchase in the Museum Shop.

About the Speaker

Born in Paris, Dr. Sylvain Cordier has been curator of early decorative arts at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts since 2013. A specialist of 18th and early 19th century decorative arts, he was a lecturer at the Sorbonne University where he defended his doctoral thesis in 2009. He then joined the Metropolitan Museum as a Jane and Morgan Whitney fellow, and the Getty Research Institute as a post-doctoral fellow.

In Montreal, Dr. Cordier co-curated the exhibition Fabulous Fabergé (2014) and Metamorphosis: in Rodin’s Studio (2015). His last exhibition Napoleon. Art and Court life in the Imperial Palace, opened in February 2018 at the MMFA, and will travel to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (Richmond, VA), the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art (Kansas City, MI) and the musée national du chateau de Fontainebleau (France) In 2018-2019.

About the Frederick J. Fisher Lecture

This is the seventh annual lecture honoring the legacy of Hillwood’s former executive director, Frederick J. Fisher, who served for twenty years (1990-2010).

  • View of the exhibition at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. Photo: MMFA/Denis Farley
    MMFA/Denis Farley