I was headed for the beautiful Luxembourg Gardens on the first day of Spring when I saw a sign for the exhibition at the Luxembourg Museum about Joséphine, the first wife of Napoleon. They were celebrating the anniversary of her death 200 years ago. There wasn’t a long line outside as there often is for exhibitions there so I popped in to get a look. There were paintings, furniture, clothing and jewelry all of which had belonged to her. She seduced Napoleon away from his fiancé even though she was six years older, a widow (her husband had been beheaded in the Revolution) and the mother of two children. She was from Martinique from a family of plantation owners. After a lavish coronation ceremony in which Napoleon crowned himself and then Joséphine, Napoleon divorced her in 1810 when she couldn’t have children. She settled into one of their former homes,the Château de Malmaison, where she eventually died. The exhibit was good, a quick overview of her life and collections.

The sign outside which caught my attention.

A painting of her.

This painting is usually in the Louvre Museum. It was said to be the favorite of herself.

She played the harp-this was hers.

One of her dresses-you can she the train in one of her mirrors.

Here’s a rather fuzzy photo from a book cover of the famous painting showing Napoleon about to crown Joséphine. It’s an enormous painting, almost life size. After it had been finished and hung in the museum, Napoleon told them to take it down as he was divorcing Joséphine.

6 thoughts to “Joséphine”

  1. Thanks for this, have made a note. Hoping to get there sometime this spring, and that period is of some interest to me.

  2. In my jeunesse, when I was in my “Napoleon/Josephine period,” I read everything I could find on them. My total frustration at not being able to read their letters to one another posted at the Arc de Triomphe, was instrumental in my taking French many years later. I still find her fascinating. So glad you enjoyed the exhibit.

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