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Thanks to the Fondation Napoléon and to the La Roche-sur-Yon Museum.

From effigy to coryphae

From the start of the Italian campaign in 1796, the young Bonaparte wanted to inspire and fascinate his contemporaries. An excellent orator, a genius communicator, the general built his own legend. He invents a "logo", the famous cocked hat, which he wears askew, making this image his trademark on the battlefield and allowing a systematic identification of the character, like a new icon.

The military campaigns he leads become propaganda tools that he uses to make himself known to the people and the Parisian politicians. Instrumentalising his physique, he wishes to highlight a character with an idealized face, inspired by ancient models. Having become First Consul at the age of 31, his meteoric rise places him in the skin of the new Caesar, figure of the People (Populares antiques), primus inter pares.

Building on his illustrious model, Bonaparte, now Imperator, Emperor, multiplies the tools of communication: relative and polysemous symbolism (bee, laurels, uniqueness of the physical representations of Napoleon), censorship and control of information, artistic discourse. The use of these references encourages the development of the cult of the personality of the Emperor, taking its roots both in classical antiquity (statuary, coins, neoclassical style) and in biblical references (plague victims of Jaffa for example. ) or the Ancien Régime (imperial consecration).

Napoleon becomes the actor of his own play, a role he has specially crafted for himself, portraying his rise and destiny to afford himself popular legitimacy.

Place du 11 novembre 1918 92500 Rueil-Malmaison France

Phone : 0147326650


From 01/09 to 02/10/2021.
Closed on Sunday.

Period: Autumn, Summer


Free of charge.

Accessibility Disability


Spoken languages : French


RER A / Rueil-Malmaison station, and then bus n°144 : ‘Mairie de Rueil’ bus stop.

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