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empire A private Napoleonic collection in Sydney, Australia This website and all images are copyright ©

I have been extremely luck to have added to my collection a few  items that were owned by, or have a direct link to Napoleon, Josephine or other members of the imperial family.  The ‘family’ consisted of the members of the Bonaparte family – Napoleon, his siblings, his wives and his son – and other close relatives, namely Joseph Fesch (Napoleon's Uncle), Eugène and Hortense de Beauharnais, his step children from his marriage to Marie-Josèphe-Rose de Beauharnais who was to become more widely known as Josephine and his various brother-in-laws.

The Imperial Family

Most of you would be forgiven for believing that militaria and relics from the Napoleonic era are so historically significant and rare that they can only be found in museums, or so expensive that only the most cash rich collectors can afford to own them. The reality is quite different. For those who know, there are plenty of relics out there, many at an affordable prices. If you have a taste for history and prepared to explore a different collecting niche, you too could become an agent for the preservation of the Napoleonic War heritage.

Militaria

The predominant artistic style in France toward the end of the eighteenth century was Neoclassicism and this style continued during the Empire. Influenced by a rediscovery of the art of the ancient world, artists invoked the ancient classical world in service of contemporary ideas or events. Neoclassicism was serious, monumental and quietly grand. Napoleon and Josephine were leaders in commissioning paintings, with Napoleon realising the importance they played in glorifying his various achievements.  

Paintings

There were many well known porcelain manufacturers during the reign of Napoleon, but the most famous was the Sevres factory. Prior to the revolution it was owned by the French Kings but when the Republic was declared it was no longer a ‘royal enterprise’; the factory lost much of its aristocratic clientele as they fled France, and its funding reflected the ruinous state of the French economy. When Napoleon came to power he immediately placed large orders with Sevres to fill the various Imperial residences.

Porcelain

The style of art under Napoleon is often referred to as the Empire style, and it takes it roots from the introduction of Neo Classicism that spread thought out Europe after the discovery of the ruins of Herculaneum and Pompeii in the later 18th century. Percier & Fontaine were together the creators of the French Empire style. The two received many commissions from Napoleon and Josephine as they built their homes and as they sort to restore the royal palaces damaged during the French  revolution.

Decorative Arts

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Documents

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Drawings

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Engravings

Napoleon was a avid reader on most subjects, with a particular interest in history. His library reflected this with ten categories including ancient history and modern political history, military history, the history of France, the countries of Europe, and countries outside Europe. In his library at Fontainebleau, the most complete today, there are over 4,500 volumes and it was from this library that he chose the books he took with him into exile, first, at Elba and then to St Helena.

Rare Books

During his rise to power and throughout his reign, Napoleon not only benefitted from circumstance but also cultivated his own image through the use of propaganda. In addition to more standard methods of propaganda, such as the press, Napoleon capitalized on the popularity of medallions for his own purposes. Specifically, Napoleon used medallions as tools to promote his desired image both before and after he became Emperor. In the end, he commissioned more medals than Louis XV and Louis XVI combined.

Medallions

Like any collection, it never seems complete and there is always something I’d like to ‘add’. Of course there are major restrictions on what I can purchase, the first being cost! Someone once wrote about me and my collection…. “I guess when you have lots of money you can collect anything”....  If only they knew how far from the truth that is. I hold down a regular job, nothing special, but through luck and knowledge I have managed to find some wonderful pieces.

New Acquisitions