Sunday, November 1, 2015

Finding Napoleon in Saint Paul

I was very surprised when I learned there was a Napoleon exhibit at the Centennial Showboat which is anchored in the Mississippi River. Today I went to see this exhibit.

 The morning had been sunny, but clouds had rolled in by the time I arrived at the Showboat early in the afternoon. However the temperature was in the mid-50s (13 C), an amazing temperature for November 1.

Inside I found exhibit articles on two levels of the Showboat.

The first thing that took my eye was this bed.

This is the bed Napoleon used during the military campaigns. The bed collapsed and so he could travel easily with his army; this apparently was an ususual activity for the head of an army during the early 19th century.

Another thing that intrigued me was a copy of the annulment papers which ended his marriage with his first wife.

The problem -- she wasn't getting pregnant with a son to provide an heir.

Another thing that took my eye was a dress coat that would be have been worn by a well-dressed man in the early 19th century. 

The coat was worn by the Minister of the Interior to Napoleon's coronation. 

Above is an inkwell used by the King of Naples. I had always thought of Napoleon as being French, and was totally unaware of how entwined he was with Italy--the unorganized Italy of the early 19th century. The King of Naples was Napoleon's oldest brother, Jerome. 

And how about this for elegance?!? 

This is a toothbrush used by Hortense, Napoleon's step-daughter. He became a step-father when he married his second wife. The signage at the exhibit explained Napoleon maintained good relations with both his natural and step-children despite his rather chaotic military and political activities. 

Of course in the early 19th century there were not bathrooms. A  bowl and pitcher were common objects to find in a bathroom. 

Above is a wash bowl used by the King of Naples.

This urn stands about 24 inches high. The signage explains it is very unusual to see a bronze urn from the early 19th century because all the metals were flowing to military operations. 

Above are watches used by the Empress.In another area I found a watch used by Napoleon which matches these. 

Above are door knobs from Napoleon's apartment in Paris.The signage asks visitors to imagine what the apartment must have been like based on the elegance of the door knobs. 

And then I saw some furniture, and it seemed so familiar. 

It seems that if we have seen anything from this era it is reproductions of the furniture. 

I enjoyed this exhibit. All my university degrees end with S meaning Science. So I am still working on my Humanities knowledge. 

This was a great activity to do a gray November afternoon. 


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