Thu 20 Mar 2014
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.
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.