📍 🇫🇷 Napoleon's tomb at Invalides
Empire-style tomb, cold, smooth, recalls the sculptures of Canova at the Galleria Borghese in Rome. Red quartzite coffin, dark red, imported from Russia (in Carelia, north of St Petersburg), placed upon a base made of green granite from the Vosges mountains (France's East). The purpose of expressing power with heavy minerals seems to translate in this tomb.
A painting by French painter Eugène Isabey (1803-1886) in the Invalides Museum, right next to Napoleon’s tomb achieves something entirely opposite. The former represents the departure of Napoléon's wooden coffin from the island of Saint Helena back to France, in December 1840 CE.
Isabey describes heavy rains and smoke from the guns, the suspense of a difficult maneuver in the middle of the South Atlantic Ocean - of ropes that must absolutely hold if the Emperor is to return. One immerses fully in the moment there.
Several generations in France will have to pass before Napoleon’s impressive shadow could peacefully fade. “To fall from Bonaparte to what followed is to fall from a mountain top into an abyss”, wrote French author Chateaubriand (1768-1848) in his memoirs. “We became the dubious and nocturnal beings of a scene from which the vast sun had disappeared…”
____ Sources ____
>> François René de Chateaubriand, “Memoirs from Beyond the Grave”, 1850