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 JosÃ©phine, 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 fiancÃ© 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 JosÃ©phine, Napoleon divorced her in 1810 when she couldn’t have children. She settled into one of their former homes,the ChÃ¢teau de Malmaison, where she eventually died. The exhibit was good, a quick overview of her life and collections.
Here’s a rather fuzzy photo from a book cover of the famous painting showing Napoleon about to crown JosÃ©phine. 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 JosÃ©phine.