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Alan K | all galleries >> France >> Day 4, Wed 11 Sep 2019, Paris > 20190911_194353_9112063 Who Needs History? We have MONEY!
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11-Sep-2019 AKMC

20190911_194353_9112063 Who Needs History? We have MONEY!

Louvre Museum, Paris, France view map

The crown on the left is the crown of Louis 15th (XV) of France. We will return to the other.

Each king had his own crown during the ancient regime. The crowns were kept in the basilica of San Denis.

During the French Revolution, crowns were a symbol of oppression instead of a symbol of history. There were 20 crowns before the Revolution, one of which was believed to belong to Charlemagne. After? There is only one, the crown of Louis 15th, here. The rest have been destroyed.

In fact, it's only part of the crown. The crown originally had many diamonds, rubies, emeralds and sapphires. In 1885 the government of the Third Republic, lacking a sense of history, decided to sell the jewelry to earn some easy money. And therefore, what we see here is not jewels but only pieces of glass.

I can't find anything on the other crown on the Louvre website. But if you trust Wikipedia, it's the crown that Napoleon used for his coronation in 1804. It is not impossible, but it is strange that there is nothing on the website about it.


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Julie Oldfield25-Aug-2020 00:04
It is really fascinating history.
Alan K24-Aug-2020 03:46
I sent the following reply by PM to Don, but it may be of interest to any other viewers so I'll add it here:
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Hi Don, the Louvre website is surprisingly awful... although to be fair they have a LOT of antiquities to catalogue. Normally if I'm in a museum at my own pace I do a shot of any labels or descriptions, but the tour that we did wasn't great. It was rushing from place to place, not really having time to soak anything in.

With regard to the crown, I agree... BUT one must remember that David was prone to, how shall we put it nicely? "Poetic flourishes". For example Napoleon didn't actually cross the Alps on a white charger, but sitting on a mule. David may have thought the crown to be a touch plain, and in need of embellishment.

Which is what I thought when I looked at the crown too; it's certainly much plainer than your average royal crown. However first, Napoleon was a military and very practical man. If I were to be crowned emperor I would prefer something plain and functional rather than dotted with jewels too, but perhaps more importantly... it's one thing to crown yourself "Emperor" but it would have been exceedingly dangerous to look like a king, just as it was in ancient Rome. The most recent king's head had been chopped off only a few years prior. Remembering what happened to Caesar on the premise that he was trying to make himself king, Napoleon may have thought a jewel encrusted headpiece to be a tad dangerous at the time. (Though by the time David started work on it, the battle of Austerlitz had been run and won and Napoleon was probably feeling much more secure than he was a year earlier. "Mais oui, Monsieur David, add a leetle 'chrome' to the crown by all means!")

If only I could have gone back in time with the E-M1 and the 40-150 lens (they're small enough to be inconspicuous), we'd know for sure...
Don Mottershead24-Aug-2020 00:07
Wikipedia has a high resolution image of David's "The Coronation of Napoleon." For what it is worth, the crown in that painting looks different from the one you have photographed. However, the Wikipedia article on "French Crown Jewels" contains the following sentence: "The crown of Napoleon was made by the jeweller Martin-Guillaume Biennais with antique cameos for the coronation of the Emperor in 1804." The reference to cameos makes it sound like the one in your photo. It is curious that the Louvre isn't more specific.
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