When the Chinese attack Napoleon, the result is the opposite of what we might see in our French museums. They have a different art of the stage. They love the strong images. They love anything that shines. They are very fond of the show. Napoleon is a hero in China and they have celebrated in a grandiose way at Himalayas museum, a private institution it-even non-standard by its architecture and its owner, the billionaire chinese Dia Zhikang.
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This exhibition was put on three years in the making, after long negotiations between the museum and the collector Pierre-Jean Chalençon, this lover of Napoleon well-known the market, today it has become a Tv star since his participation in bargain on France 2. This last was drawn in 2000 to 3 000 items from his collection, 185 of his most beautiful pieces, some never loaned before. They are staged so sumptuous on the 2,000 square metres of the museum.
Sometimes on pedestals as the big four-poster bed with yellow and gold of Jerome, king of Westphalia and youngest brother of Napoleon. Sometimes in shop windows, like the cabaret green and gold of the Sèvres manufactory belonging to Pauline Borghese, or the covered of the emperor signed Biennais. The Chinese do not hesitate to pile them up. What thrills our collector …
If the Chinese have chosen to celebrate Napoleon, it is because his market is exploding. The larger bids were made by Asians, such as the hat Napoleon auctioned nearly € 1.9 million in 2014, at Osenat Fontainebleau, france, or, more recently, the leaf of the crown of the coronation by Biennais soaring 627.000 euro, always at Osenat.
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the director of The museum, Qibin Chen, a passion has always been for the emperor. He has read all the books, visited all the French museums, in order to understand the character with whom he identified totally. This scholar became a contemporary artist gives his view of this historical figure that so fascinates the Chinese. According to him, “Napoleon is the symbol of modernity, progress, a model for all civilizations”.
‘understand the scope of the image of Napoleon”
This exhibition is a dialogue between the viewer and the story. This is not just a presentation of objects all the more extraordinary one than the other. They are confronted with works by chinese contemporary artists, to videos explaining the relation of Napoleon with the world, in a journey that takes absolutely no account of the timeline. “It does not interest the Chinese, confirms historian David Chanteranne. What they want is to understand the character, how it has changed the world in advancing the progress and explain that it is the scope of his image.”
“The debate is open, launches Qibin Chen, Napoleon was a strategist or simply an adventurer? A warrior or a peacemaker? A liberator or a tyrant? What influence has he exerted on the civilizations?”
To get the message across to its audience, this exhibition has given a great deal of resources. It has cost over 1.5 million euros. It must, depending on its success, continue, in three or four other cities of China, after its closure on 29 February next.