Napoleon III at Gênes

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Napoleon III at Genes, 1859

Detail from the painting Napoleon III at Genes Detail from the painting Napoleon III at Genes Detail from the painting Napoleon III at Genes

Detail from the painting Napoleon III at Genes

The arrival of Napoleon III at Gênes in 1859, by Théodore Gudin, and details

Apart from Napoleon’s canot, another striking feature in the first room at the Paris Musée de la Marine is this painting of the arrival of Napoleon III at Gênes in 1859, by Théodore Gudin.

Many of the paintings of this era at the Musée seem to have been created to be read like a book – they are crammed with details each requiring the viewer’s attention. Almost every where I pointed my camera I found painterly details that seemed to be worth recording.

I’ll be putting more of these photos from our brief Paris holiday trip up over the next few days and weeks. Often they show interesting boat details, though in this case the interest lies in the individual characters and scenes. For example, the look on that poor bride’s face as Napoleon III steals the limelight on her wedding day is a picture, so to speak. And what about the boy climbing the rudder, and those characters in the water?

I’m not particularly proud to admit that as an Englishman I know little of French history, but I had heard of Napeoleon III – in fact, I lived for a while in Chislehurst, where he spent his final years in exile.

Just yards from my flat were two landmarks associated with him, the Imperial Arms pub named in his memory and a quiet lane called Susan Wood, where legend has it that he installed a mistress of the same name. I later became friendly with a family who lived in the house she was said to have lived in, and often looked at what is said to be a stained-glass portrait of the lady set into their 19th century kitchen door. I should perhaps explain that the family’s three sons are all music and sailing enthusiasts, so we had and still have a lot in common!

To read more about Napoleon III, check his Wikipedia entry. There’s no mention of Susan Wood, sadly.

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Napoleon’s own rowing boat

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Napoleon\'s famouse canot at he Musee de la Marine, Paris

Napoleon\'s famous canot at the Musee de la Marine, Paris Napoleon\'s famous canot at the Musee de la Marine, Paris

Napoleon\'s famous canot at the Musee de la Marine, Paris Napoleon\'s famous canot at the Musee de la Marine, Paris

Views of Napoleon’s famous canot at the Musee de la Marine, Paris.
Truly a boat fit for an emperor!

On entering the Paris Musée de la Marine, the first thing the visitor sees is Napoleon’s wonderful canot – and it hits you right between the eyes. The gilding is fantastic, even down to the fish that adorn each of the oars.

What do you think – does it represent a challenge to amateur boatbuilders?

The canot was apparently built in secret and used by the emperor and his young empress Marie-Louise to inspect his fleet at what the museum authorities are pleased to call the Port of Anvers in 1810 – though the people who live there call it Antwerpen, while anglophones generally use the name Antwerp. I’ll put up a post about a painting of that event in a few days.

Of course there are lots of other things to see and do in Paris, as the Rough Guide to Paris makes clear!

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