Napoleon and the Myth of Rome – Extended until November 7, 2021 at Traiano Museo dei Fori Imperiali

If you are lucky enough to be visiting Rome soon, the Mercati di Traiano Museo dei Fori Imperiali has a treat in store for you – an exhibition in three parts exploring Emperor Napoleon’s relationship with the classical art of Rome and his use of it in presenting himself as a leader, modelled on Augustus, Hannibal and other classical figures.

The might of Rome has been admired by leaders since the fall of the Roman Empire in 476 AD. Napoleon and also the Nazi Party under Adolf Hitler are just two of the political movements that tried to model themselves on the myth of the Roman Empire, adopting similar iconography and political attitudes. Both suffered as humiliating and final downfalls as the Roman Empire did, however.

Horace Vernet’s Napoleon, on the Eve of the Battle of Borodino, Presenting to His Staff Officers the Portrait the King of Rome Recently Painted by Gérard, 1813, Montreal Museum of Fine Arts

The exhibition Napoleon and the Myth of Rome covers the relationship between Napoleon and the models of the classical world from the time he was young, up to his use of imperial artworks in political and self- promotion.

Organised by Claudio Parisi Presicce, Massimiliano Munzi, Nicoletta Bernacchio and Simone Pastor, the exhibition explores Napoleon’s stormy relationship with the Vatican, as well as the archaeological excavations in the Forum of Trajan organised by the Napoleonic Administration in Rome and Egyptomania.

The face of Julius Caesar, thought to be the most naturalistic representation of him, Vatican Museum, Rome

The event is divided into three sections and includes more than 100 works of art – sculptures, paintings, prints, medals, gems and objects of so-called minor art from the Capitoline Museum and artefacts from Italian and foreign museums. The exhibition’s three sections are the relationship between Napoleon and the classical world, Napoleon’s relationship with Italy and Rome – and ancient models in Napoleon’s art and epic. The third section covers the use of the Roman eagle, later also adopted by Hitler as a symbol of the Nazi Party.

Emperor Augustus, Rome

Tickets for the exhibition are bookable online – for more information and to book, visit the website ROME CULTURE.

Buon viaggio!

Canova’s Napoleon as Mars the Peacemaker, Aspley House, London

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