Napoleon Bonaparte is everywhere in the collections of many British cultural institutions.
In the Napoleon section of this website, you can find some Napoleon Trails in a few of these institutions: the Royal Collection, the Wallace Collection, Westminster Abbey. They propose dozens of works of art, archives, and items showing the legacy of the Emperor in the British identity.
Some other institutions agreed to be involved in this Year Napoleon through Curator’s Choices. Here is the object choosen by James Peill, Curator of the Goodwood Collection at Goodwood House.
The French version is available here.
Goodwood House, the home of the Duke and Duchess of Richmond and Gordon combines the glamour of a great English country house with the warmth of a family home. It also provides a dramatic setting for one of the most significant private art collections in the country. The State Apartments, restored to their full Regency splendour, reflect the exoticism and opulence of this period.
Following the battle of Waterloo, the Duke of Wellington presented the 4th Duke of Richmond with Napoleon’s campaign chair. This was the ultimate ‘trophy of war’, given as a personal token of thanks by Wellington to Richmond and his wife for hosting their famous ball in Brussels a few days earlier. He was extremely grateful for the Duke and Duchess’ sang-froid in the face of the enemy advancing, an action which helped to prevent a stampede of civilians fleeing Brussels.
The mahogany bergère was probably made by the father and sons firm of Jacob-Frères, leading French cabinet-makers who specialised in chairs. It is designed in the fashionable Empire style, named after the First French Empire. The shape, with curved solid back in beautifully-figured mahogany recalls ancient Roman chairs. The centre of the leather seat was originally stamped ‘N’ and was cut out when Napoleon was exiled on Elba.
The 4th Duke of Richmond started a family tradition of always using the chair to work in. Today, it is used on a daily basis by his descendant, the 11th Duke of Richmond.