A palace for the Emperor. Napoleon I at Fontainebleau
Covid-19 information : a health pass or a test taken within the last 48 hours is required at the entrance.
The First Empire (1804-1815), was a particularly heady period for Fontainebleau, both in terms of the new lease of life given to the palace (hitherto unused and emptied of its furniture in the aftermath of the Revolution) and the sparkling events that unfolded there. It was the beginning of a second renaissance.
The visits of Napoleon I (1804, 1807, 1809, 1810) were rich in political and family events, confirming the Emperor’s deep attachment to the palace. The Emperor’s restoration of the former home of the Kings of France at great expense, in a programme led by architects Charles Percier and Pierre-François-Léonard, was a statement of the eminent role he wished to restore to the château with regard to the other imperial residences, such as the Tuileries, Saint-Cloud, Compiègne and Rambouillet. The roofs were restored, the interior décor renewed, the apartments lavishly refurnished, the theatre renovated, the Louis XV wing fitted out for the princes’ use, and the gardens remodelled in the style of the time. Despite this ceaseless activity, his legacy as an eminently respectful restorer of the castle remains difficult to establish, particularly as successive regimes (such as the Restoration) erased a number of his contributions.
The aim of the exhibition is to highlight Napoleon’s work at Fontainebleau and analyse the Emperor’s involvement with the château. More than 200 works drawn from the city’s collections, along with public French and overseas collections, reveal the sumptuous nature of the fittings installed for Josephine, the luxuriousness of the furniture for the palace, the extraordinary imperial library, and the transformation of the **François I Gallery”, along with the major projects that were abandoned with the fall of the regime. Added to this are obscure but extraordinary episodes such as the display at Fontainebleau of paintings by the great masters, mainly seized from the galleries of the German principalities, which the French state was obliged to hand back in 1815.
Access and contact
Days and opening hours
From 15/09/2021 to 03/01/2022, daily.