Pie VII Facing Napoleon, the Tiara in the Eagle's Claws


The exhibition first conjures up the French appropriation of treasuries from the Pontifical collection, the celebration of the 1801 Concordat via official imagery or else the subtle iconography of diplomatic gifts during the 1804 coronation. The propaganda war, climaxing with the invasion of the Pontifical States in 1808 and the arrest of Pius VII in 1809, is then analysed through the imagery of Ancient Rome being reborn thanks to « the Modern Caesar ». The Pope, held in Savona since 1809, is led to Fontainebleau in 1812, where both protagonists confront each other. In January 1813, the Emperor succeeds in extracting a short-lived Concordat from the Pope who, once released in 1814, is greeted in Rome with triumphalist imagery.


Close to 130 pieces, some of them new revelatory acquisitions as well as exceptional loans from the Vatican Museum and the Papal Sacristy, illustrate a confrontation where religious, political and artistic stakes interplay.


curators: Christophe Beyeler et Jean Vittet, scenography: Atelier Sylvain Roca & Nicolas Groult, graphism: Patrick Hoarau, lights: Ponctuelle


photos: Sylvain Roca

  • Opening: March 2015
  • Location: Fontainebleau castle
  • Area: 380 m2
  • Production: RMN Grand Palais, Fontainebleau castle
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