Napoleon, the gloves of Waterloo at the Pinacoteca Ambrosiana in Milan
As part of the celebrations promoted throughout Italy by the Committee for the Napoleonic Bicentenary 1821-2021, the Pinacoteca Ambrosiana in Milan, in collaboration with the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart, hosts, from 5 October 2021 to 23 January 2022, the exhibition ‘Napoleon at the Ambrosiana. paths of representation ‘. The exhibition, curated by Francesca Barbieri e Alessandra Mignatti, with Annamaria Cascetta in the role of scientific director, he presents engravings, drawings, reports, satirical writings, booklets, periodicals and theoretical printed works from the heritage of the Ambrosiana Library as well as goods from the collections of paintings and memorabilia of the Pinacoteca. Also on display are the gloves used by the leader in the Waterloo war.
The material allows an in-depth study of the representation which, in its broadest anthropological meaning, constitutes a privileged observatory on the cultural transformations that the city of Milan experienced in the Napoleonic era. How does the new power appear, or rather ‘represent’? How is it perceived and in turn represented? The review analyzes various fields of investigation, such as the development of the feast and other celebratory forms from the Cisalpine Republic to the Kingdom of Italy, or the organization of the city which reveals, between ephemeral and permanent structures, a structure that is the result of a profound rethinking. The theatrical performances, moreover, with their creative ferment, are placed in dialogue with the great events of the time and participate in the construction of the new citizen. Finally, the representation also involves the more everyday aspects of life, from the new allegories that appear in the bureaucratic field to the fashion for clothing and hairdressing.
The exhibition itinerary follows the chronological succession of events from the Cisalpine Republic to the Kingdom of Italy and the fall of Napoleon. In the first rooms of the exhibition, an itinerary begins with the entry of the French troops in Milan and ends in 1814. Particularly noteworthy is the inspired portrait of Napoleon painted by Andrea Appiani immediately after the arrival of the then young general in town. On display are engravings signed by important artistic personalities of the Milanese neoclassical age, such as Alessandro Sanquirico and Gaspare Galliari, as well as a drawing by Giovanni Perego. they are indicated to the visitor with the exhibition logo. There are also some famous masterpieces from different eras that were prey to the Napoleonic spoliation in Ambrosiana and then partly returned. Among the most precious relics are the gloves worn by the emperor during the battle of Waterloo, the epilogue of his parable. Finally, there is an appendix to the exhibition in the Federiciana room, where some drawings of the Codex Atlanticus by Leonardo da Vinci are presented, a work also involved in the Napoleonic looting.
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