Joséphine’s antiques

Calliope Collection of Josephine

Calliope Collection of Josephine

I had missed the exhibition titled De Pompéi à Malmaison, les antiques de Joséphine, at Malmaison and only discovered its existence today thanks to a poster in the metro!

Joséphine Bonaparte purchased the Château of Malmaison, a few miles west of Paris, in 1799, only months before her husband seized power and became First Consul. The estate was the couple’s unofficial country residence, and Bonaparte “commuted” between the Palace of the Tuileries, in the heart of Paris, and Malmaison. It very much became Joséphine’ private domain, as Trianon had been for Marie-Antoinette. After her divorce, she retired there permanently until her death in 1814.

Joséphine was an amateur of antiques, then very much in fashion, and gathered at Malmaison a collection of 300 Greek and Roman vases, bronzes and paintings.

These were scattered by Joséphine’s heirs but fortunately the Louvre was able to purchase most of the artifacts, which are now part of its permanent collections. This means that we shouldn’t expect any revelations, but this show provides a nice opportunity to revisit Malmaison and see these objects displayed in their former setting.

Musée national du Château de Malmaison, until January 26, 2009.

Josephine by Gerard

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