Napoleon’s statue : the long journey to the Invalides

Located in the Invalides courtyard since 1911, the famous statue of Napoleon has had a tumultuous journey before arriving there. Originally made for the Vendome column, it was moved several times, depending on political changes or wars. To the point of losing the head…

This portrait, which is the work of the sculptor Emile Seurre, is one of the most famous images of Napoleon Bonaparte. With his hand on his stomach, dressed in his frock coat and bearing the famous bicorn hat, this representation of the “petit Corporal” was used a lot to symbolize Napoleon as a military hero.

Commissioned by King Louis-Philippe, this sculpture was inaugurated in 1833 Place Vendôme to replace an statue of Napoleon dressed as a Roman Emperor. 30 years later, Napoleon III, who wanted to restore the imperial image of his uncle, removed it. It was therefore installed at the end of the historic axis of Paris, at the rond-point de Courbevoie.

The Franco-Prussian war broke out in 1870. The population recovered the statue to protect it from fighting. But while it was travelling on the Seine on a boat, it fell into the water. Fished out 4 months later, it was found in two pieces. During the fall, the head had separated from the body!

It has been finally installed in the main courtyard in 1911. It is even said that the head visible today would not be the original one. A mystery that adds to the legendary story of this statue…

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