Alexander, Napoleon, and Joséphine
28 March — 18 October 2015
It is October 1812. Napoleon and his troops are leaving Moscow. The French armies’ long advance has been checked: Tsar Alexander I has refused to surrender to Napoleon. The inhabitants of Moscow have fled and set the city alight. The army can go no further without supplies. The retreat is disastrous. Napoleon loses half a million men to freezing temperatures and combat. This is a turning point in history, the prelude to Napoleon’s ultimate defeat at Waterloo.
This exhibition brings to life the battle waged by two emperors on the turbulent European stage. From their initial friendship, their meeting on the raft at Tilsit and a fragile peace to the great battles and the fire of Moscow. One woman plays a pivotal role in both their lives: Joséphine de Beauharnais. Her collection from Château de Malmaison eventually ended up in the Winter Palace in St Petersburg.