New Napoleon exhibition in China promotes China-France cultural exchange
Published: Mar 31, 2024 10:33 PM
Photo: Xu Liuliu/GT

Photo: Xu Liuliu/GT

An exhibition featuring valuable artifacts from the residences of Napoleon Bonaparte opened to the public in Beijing on Saturday as one of the activities to mark the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and France.

The exhibition, called Meet Napoleon: The Disappeared Palaces features 81 sets of antiques, presenting Napoleon's multifaceted life in three sections: Rise to power:Becoming Napoleon, The unknown facet: Protectors of Science and art, and Reprise: Life in Napoleon's Court.

It is one of the cultural exchange programs that French President Emmanuel Macron mentioned during his state visit to China in 2023, said French Ambassador to China Bertrand Lortholary on Friday at the exhibition's opening.

He felt "glad to see it" and introduced it as the start of a number of cultural events to mark the 60th anniversary of the establishment of China-France diplomatic relations.

Photo: Xu Liuliu/GT

Photo: Xu Liuliu/GT

According to Hervé Lemoine, the director of the Mobilier national, the exhibition focuses on the Tuileries, Saint-Cloud and Meudon Palaces (all three destroyed today) and the furnishings of the time of Napoleon Bonaparte, first consul of the Republic, then emperor of France in the 18th and 19th century.

The mission of the Mobilier national is to ensure the conservation and restoration of its collections, the royal and imperial residences, and the official palaces of the Republic.

The objects on display at the exhibition include ceremonial furniture, art objects and decorative elements of the time like chairs, lamps and tapestries.

Multimedia and digital technology are also used to replicate the three ornate palaces.

Li Jinsheng, chairman of the China Arts and Entertainment Group Ltd (CAEG), said that China and France have long engaged in extensive and in-depth exchanges and cooperation in the humanities, arts and other fields.

"This year, we will organize some events to showcase Chinese culture in France, allowing French audiences to appreciate the charm of Chinese culture," said Li.

During the Sino-French Museums and Cultural Exchange Salon following the opening, Hervé Lemoine said that the exhibition seeks to help visitors discover cultural commonalities and foster friendship and that he expects a bright future for the friendship between France and China.

Wang Chunchen, a professor at the Central Academy of Fine Arts and also director of the Meet You Museum, said that this exhibition emphasizes history and cultural relics. "In addition to being portrayed as a politician and military strategist, Napoleon's ordinary life appeared in front of the Chinese audience. Like many Chinese audiences, I walked into Napoleon's life for the first time; I got to know the other side of him, the man who loved culture and arts."

Wang believes that at this occasion of the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and France, the exhibition helps Chinese audiences to enter into the history and culture of France, and will also have a sense of intimacy with France.

The exhibition at the Meet You Museum will run until June 20.