Thursday, June 28, 2012

Something New: Napoleon at the NGV (see)

SEE: The Napoleon Exhibition at the NGV had been calling for a little while, the big banners on the building's side promising pomp and splendor. Closer inspection of the website uncovered more intriguing bits and pieces including a section on exploration and discovery with the diaries, drawings and records of the various French expeditions to Australia and other far-flung locales. I'm a sucker for old naturalist drawings so I was sold.

No cameras allowed in the exhibition itself but many of the paintings are well known like The Death of Marat; Queen Marie-Antoinette (1755-1793) in a hoop skirt dress; Napoleon, crowned; and Napoleon Bonaparte, First Consul, crossing the Alps at Great St Bernard Pass, 20 May 1800 above. There's certainly splendour there and plenty of pomp. But it was the hat, the quintessential bicorn hat, sitting there behind glass, that really blew me away. Not so old, really, compared to some of the ancient artefacts I've seen and even handled, but it probably inhabits a bigger place in history, a more notable place than all the others. I couldn't even imagine standing so close to the man who wore it.

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