NLR Online Exhibitions

To Be Napoleon Each Wishes


Paul Delaroche. Portrait of Napoleon in his Study. 1838.
May 5, 2021 marks the 200th anniversary of the death of Napoleon Bonaparte (1769–1821), General of the French Revolutionary Army, First Consul of the Republic, Emperor of the French.

For more than two centuries, “dark” and “golden” legends have been grown around Napoleon. He was hated and admired, he was defamed and extolled, but never forgotten.

A huge array of works of history and fiction have been written about Napoleon and his time, and they continue to multiply. The recent estimate for the number of books on Napoleon was almost 75 thousand. In addition to historians and writers, many artists, musicians, masters of theater and cinema dedicated and dedicate their works to Napoleon. Manuscripts and items related to the emperor invariably remain objects of special attention of collectors.

Russia has contributed greatly to "Napoleonics". To appreciate it, it is enough to name Pushkin and Tolstoy, Vereshchagin and Glinka, the outstanding writers and historians of the 20th century: Merezhkovsky, Tarle, Manfred, Tugan-Baranovsky among many significant people in Russian science and culture, who explored this topic.

Carefully preserved in Russian archives and libraries, numerous documents of the Napoleonic era, when the history of Russia and France were so closely intertwined, attract more and more new researchers. They are studied, published, interpreted.

It seems that Pushkin's famous line "To be Napoleon each wishes" from Eugene Onegin sounds quite modern even today.