1859. Napoleon III in Genoa

From 6 May to 10 July 2011, the Teatro del Falcone, an exhibition space of the Museo di Palazzo Reale in Genoa, hosts works from Italian and foreign museums, collected in an exhibition on the role played by Genoa in the Risorgimento and, more particularly, in the sixth decade of the 19th century.

The exhibition places at the centre of its exhibition itinerary the painting Disembarkation of Napoleon III in Genoa, painted by Jean Antoine Théodore de Gudin (Paris 15 August 1802 - Boulogne-sur-Seine 11 April 1880) between 1860 and 1865. The work, which is of considerable size (178 x 470 cm), is preserved in the Musée National de la Marine in Paris, it reports an important episode of the Italian Risorgimento. In fact, the author describes, with the skill of the artist specialized in maritime scenes, the arrival of the French emperor in the Ligurian port on 12 May 1859, a prelude to the triumphant campaign of the Second War of Independence.

The enthusiasm of those spring days remains impressed in Genoese history as one of the most evident manifestations of the emergence of a new generation. Intellectuals, bourgeois, young patriots, aristocrats, but above all ordinary citizens who had lived neither the Napoleonic period, nor the disappointment and humiliation for the loss of the secular republican independence, gather around the symbols of a nascent nation. Genoa in a celebration that greets Napoleon III, although filtered by stories and amplified by the inevitable rhetoric, is a largely new city, ready to measure itself against the future.

In addition to the large oil painting by Gudin, a copy of the Portrait of Napoleon III, 1872, by Jean-Hippolyte Flandrin (Lyon, 23 March 1809 - Rome, 21 March 1864), from the Napoleonic Museum in Rome, are on display; prints by Carlo Bossoli (Lugano 1815 - Turin 1884) painter-chronicler of the Risorgimento campaigns 1859-1860-1861, on behalf of "The Times" and Prince Eugene of Savoy Carignano, from the Photographic Archive of the Municipality of Genoa; a volume of engravings dated 1859, entitled The war in Italy – by Carlo Bossoli, loaned by the Berio Civic Library; an unpublished portrait of Vittorio Emanuele II (oil on canvas) by Niccolò Barabino, together with other paintings and lithographs, from the Mazziniano Institute-Museum of the Risorgimento in Genoa.

The exhibition, curated by Giorgio Rossini and Luca Leoncini, was organized by the Superintendency for Architectural and Landscape Heritage of Liguria, with the active collaboration of the Municipality of Genoa, Museum Sector and the substantial contribution of the Carige Foundation.