While we were in Paris this summer, the Musée de l'Armée had an exhibit, Napoleon and Europe. Part of the exhibit was the fabulous “Chaumet Crown” and the Ruby Parure for Archduchess Marie-Louis of Austria, Napoleon's second wife. Chaumet traces its origins to 1780. Founded by Marie-Etienne Nitot who along with his son Francois-Regnault Nitot became the official jewelers to Napoleon I during the Consulate and the Empire. Napoleon was a real wife-pleaser, lavishing an avalanche of gemstones upon his lady-loves. In the autumn of 1810 an order was placed with the emperor’s favorite jeweler, François-Regnault Nitot, in honor of his new wife, Archduchess Marie-Louise of Habsburg, the daughter of Emperor Franz I of Austria and niece of Marie-Antoinette. During the autumn of 1810, Nitot, began crafting two new parures, one of emeralds and diamonds, the other of rubies and diamonds. The finished pieces were delivered to the emperor on January 16, 1811. The Ruby Parure set used nearly 400 rubies and more than 6,000 diamonds in all. Both Napoléon I and Napoleon III seemed to love jewels and lavished them on their companions. I thought a post would be a good opportunity to review the history of the French Crown Jewels during and after Napoléon I.
This summer the Musée de l'Armée at Invalides had an exhibition highlighting Napoléon and his impact in Europe that we attended. Napoléon Bonaparte deeply marked the history of Europe and the exhibition reflected the French emperor’s European ambitions between 1793 and 1815, providing a fresh analysis of his impact on war, politics, public administration, currency, propaganda and art. As early as the time of the Consulate, Napoléon had undertaken major reforms in order to construct a robust state with healthy finances, a competent administration, a disciplined police force and an efficient judicial system. Through the unification of weights and measures, the dissemination of the French language, the creation of professional administrations and through his huge project for the codification and unification of the laws, Napoléon permanently modified the face of France and of Europe. This was such an interesting exhibition that I have decided to devote at least two posts to the exhibition. This post will focus on images of Napoléon from the exhibition and some I have from the Musée de l'Armée and the Louvre. The exhibit opened with the large and spectacular painting, Napoléon Crossing the Alps by David, seen above.