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Art: Napoleon’s Things

1 minute read

Napoleona went on exhibition last week at the Museum of French Art in Manhattan. Maudlin sentimentalizers sniffled; shallow women giggled, pointed. In a glass case they saw something looking like a maltreated strip of buckskin shoelace or a shriveled eel. It was a mummified tendon taken from Napoleon’s body at the postmortem. Then there were locks of Napoleon’s hair, his white breeches, a flounce of Alengon lace from Marie Louise’s wedding dress, a baby dress worn by L’Aiglon (Napoleon’s only legitimate child), a death mask of Napoleon cast in bronze from the papier maché matrix made by his doctor, Antommarchi; innumerable letters, prints, cartoons, snuff boxes, medals, etc. Most of the exhibited items were from the Vignali collection, purchased in Europe three years ago by Dr. A. S. W. Rosenbach of Philadelphia.

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