This is the title that Philippe Séguin gave to the excellent biography he devoted to him in 1990.
Louis Napoleon Bonaparte died in Chislehurst, district of the borough of Bromley, exactly 150 years ago, on January 9, 1873.
He will reign more than 11 years longer than his uncle, and during his twenty years of power, the author of "the extinction of pauperism" will be attentive to social progress and will make France an industrial, modern country, at the forefront of the scientific progress. He will make Paris, with Hausmann, this jewel that millions of tourists want to visit at least once in their life. There is not a big city in France that does not carry the memories of this new town planning today.
Like Victor Hugo, who never stopped spitting his hatred at him, we do not forgive bad beginnings that end badly. If his reign began with a coup and ended with the disaster of Sedan, the second emperor of the French, who was also their first president of the republic, does not deserve the unenviable place he occupies in our collective consciousness.
His portraits are numerous, such as the one painted by Alexandre Cabanel in 1865 where the Emperor poses in ceremonial costume, his facial features already marked.
On the occasion of the exhibition "Spectacular Second Empire" that the Musée d'Orsay presented in 2017, Paul Perrin, curator of the paintings declared:
"Napoleon III was not a sovereign who had a pronounced taste for contemporary creation. The emperor had little interest in art, but he understood its importance for his image, for the prestige of the regime and of his dynasty. He therefore does not hesitate to place orders for portraits, paintings that commemorate the great moments of the reign such as military victories or major ceremonies.
During the Second Empire, painting was emancipated from the art of "court painters" in the service of a few princes or temporal powers and encouraged the emergence of independent artists who sold their paintings to buyers from bourgeois backgrounds.
It was Napoleon III who authorized in 1863 the holding at the Palais de l'Industrie in Paris, in the building built for the Universal Exhibition of 1855, of the famous "Salon of the refused" which brought together painters who had not been accepted at the Official Salon. Edouard Manet will exhibit three paintings there: the famous "Luncheon on the Grass" (called at the time "The Bath"), "Mademoiselle V. in Espada Costume" and "A Young Man in Majo Costume".
In his art history lectures, Fabrice Roy combines the past with the present, in a poetic and playful evocation of the French 19th century...