Exhibition | Napoleon the Strategist

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on April 26, 2018

From the press release for the exhibition:

Napoleon the Strategist / Napoléon stratège
Musée de l’Armée, Paris, 6 April — 22 July 2018

Following on from the presentation of Napoleon’s political vision with the 2013 exhibition Napoleon and Europe and an exploration in 2016 of his fall and his legend with Napoleon in Saint Helena: His Fight for His Story, in spring 2018 the Musée de l’Armée will tackle another aspect of the history of Napoleon, whose skills as a ‘military genius’ are universally recognised.

Any examination of Napoleon the strategist has to start by defining the notion of strategy and how it evolved. For it was in Napoleon’s time that the notion became inextricably linked to power and the abilities of the person wields it. The word ‘strategy’ emerged in the military world, gradually taking on the meaning and form that are now applied more broadly to politics, the economy, finance, and communications. The idea behind the exhibition is therefore to train the spotlight on strategy, the intangible expression of Napoleonic thinking where the skill lies in mastering a vast range of parameters and their interactions. The exhibition will draw on maps, documents illustrating the master strategist’s deliberations, and objects—vestiges, symbols and representations of historical facts—that embody the tangible reality that strategic thinking seeks to control.

To ensure that the theme is as widely accessible as possible, Napoleon’s role will be illustrated in the context of his era, including a description of his education, abilities, and the means available to him and to his enemies. The exhibition sets out to show the strategist at work, explain the issues at stakes and how campaigns progressed, and get to the heart of the action to analyse his most famous battles, defeats as well as victories.

Although the new event is separate from the permanent collection galleries devoted to the Revolution and the Empire, it contributes to them with a complementary viewpoint. Multimedia tools will offer an immersive experience to help visitors grasp what is an abstract and complex notion. The permanent galleries will feature new digital installations providing a more narrative and explanatory approach to Napoleon’s strategic ideas. Visitors will be able to move freely between these two approaches. The visit continues on the Invalides site with an exploration of the Dome church, home to Napoleon’s tomb.

François Lagrange and Émilie Robbe, eds., Napoléon stratège (Paris: Lienart, 2018), 296 pages, ISBN: 978-2359062328, 29€.

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