Napoleon and Europe

Dream and Trauma

17 December 2010 to 25 April 2011

During the nearly sixteen years of his reign, Napoleon Bonaparte (1769–1821), more than any other historical figure, redrew the very foundations of European history. and wrought changes that can be felt to this day – both positively and negatively. The exhibition, which has been panned and organised by the Art and Exhibition Hall of the Federal Republic of Germany, draws on a selection of high-calibre loans from all over Europe to present a comprehensive picture of Napoleon and his time. Painting and sculpture reached new heights of excellence in the Napoleonic era – both in the propaganda paintings by David, Gérard and Ingres and in the work of those who opposed the French emperor, among them Goya and the German Romanticists. Staying clear of well-worn clichés that paint Napoleon as a warmonger or a larger than life political genius, the exhibition aims to draw a more differentiated picture of the Napoleonic era between war, politics, administration, art theft and cultural prosperity.

"The source of all great mistakes and thence of all the great suffering of our time was that Napoleon was perceived either as a demigod or as a monster or, more often than not, as both at the same time."
Friedrich von Gentz, 1814

The exhibition is held under the patronage of Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel and the President of the French Republic, Nicolas Sarkozy.

The exhibition was planned by the Art and Exhibition Hall of the Federal Republic of Germany, Bonn, in cooperation with the Musée de l'Armée in Paris and will be shown in Paris in 2013.

The exhibition is subdivided into the following thematic chapters, which are explained in a microsite NAPOLEON:

  • Generation Bonaparte
  • Fascination and Revulsion
  • Physical and Symbolic Birth
  • The Dream of a Great Empire
  • Blood and Sex: Europe, a Family Business
  • Space, Law, Religion: New Ways of Controlling Space and the Mind
  • Objects of Desire: Napoleon and the Appropriation of European Art and Heritage
  • The Empire of Symbols
  • Duels
  • Nations – Emotions
  • Symbolic and Physical Death
  • Projections: A ‘Divided’ Icon



Napoleon und Europa. Traum und Trauma
Format 24,5 x 28 cm
368 pages with 450 colour illustrations
Museum edition: 32 EUR (German)
Publisher: Prestel Verlag, Munich
Trade edition: 39,95 EUR
ISBN 978-3-7913-5088-2