Exhibition “Dessiner pour Napoleon” at the Archives Nationales de France

Until 18 October, Paris

Dessiner pour Napoleon – Draw for Napoleon: Treasures of the Imperial Secretary of State is an exhibition on at the Archives Nationales de France, open until July 19, 2021; closed from July 20 to August 30; and reopening from September 1 to October 18.

A key administrative cog at the heart of Napoleon’s power, the Secretary of State prepares the emperor’s work. To make him quickly understand a project and get his support, maps, plans or drawings are attached to administrative reports. Initially with a utilitarian vocation, these figurative documents strike us today by their aesthetic quality. If most of them are due to now unknown authors, some are drawn by the best hands, the painters Jacques-Louis David or Jean-Baptiste Isabey, the engraver Dominique-Vivant Denon, to name only a few famous names.

With the generous support of Chaumet, the Foundation Napoléon and the many donors who participated in the stock Save the drawings and plans of Napoleon I (launched jointly by the Archives Nationales and the Foundation Napoléon in 2017 in view of the commemorations around the bicentenary of the emperor’s death), 1,342 figured documents were restored, 1,800 digitized and put online on the site of the Virtual Inventory Room.

To give an account of this operation, the Archives Nationales exhibits more than a hundred of these remarkable documents shedding light on the development of communications and industry, regional planning and many other subjects. The exhibition perfectly illustrates the evocative and powerful sentence that we attribute to Napoleon: “A good sketch is better than a long speech“!

Find all information and some treasures from the Archives Nationales here: https://www.archives-nationales.culture.gouv.fr/dessiner-pour-napoleon

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