1st and 2nd French Empire

Treasures from Napoleonic France

Displayed at MUZEO in Anaheim, CA, Oct. 11, 2009 – Jan. 8, 2010

french empire clock logoIn 2009, after three decades of anonymity, the Knohls were asked by a local museum to display a selection of objects representing the First and Second French Empire. Thrilled to share his love for this important period in European history, Dr. Knohl culled their private art trove and filled two rooms with captivating canvases and magnificent personal art objects.

A highlight of “The Knohl Collection: Treasures From the 1st and 2nd Empire” was Paul Delaroche’s painting Napoleon Crossing the Alps (1848), a realistic image of Bonaparte’s journey through the Great Saint-Bernard Pass, and a rebuke of Jacques Louis David’s elevated portrait of Napoleon on a white stallion. Delaroche’s portrayal of the Emperor shows the real face of war: no horse rearing its hind legs, no billowing red cloak, and his men are not heroically marching behind him. Instead, we see a downtrodden Napoleon sitting on a donkey as his bedraggled men trod beside him in an icy blanket of snow.

Hanging next to Delaroche’s painting, was Napoleon Rendant Visite Aux Blessés (Napoleon Returns to Visit the Wounded), a propaganda piece by Paul Emile Boutigny. Many artists during this period, created images to satisfy the political needs of the revolution and gratify the ego of the Emperor Napoleon. Boutigny’s piece depicts a compassionate Bonaparte kneeling before a wounded soldier, not unlike a saint or savior with the miraculous power to heal.

Complementing the canvases and completing the story of life during this turbulent time in history are a wonderful selection of personal art objects: Exquisite Empire clocks, bronze statues, hand-painted cigar cases, and a magnificent array of match safes (small portable containers used to safely carry matches).