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The Noel Collection Announces its Current and Upcoming Events for Napoleon's 250th Birthday

September 04, 2019

SHREVEPORT, LA- The James Smith Noel Collection has announced its upcoming events for August through October. These events are in commemoration of Napoleon Bonaparte’s 250th birthday.

On the third floor of the Noel Memorial Library, the “Napoleon: His Life, His Times, His Battles” exhibit can be found. This exhibit contains many items including caricatures, posters, hand-painted medallions, and Epinal images. Some of the Epinal images were created after Napoleon’s defeat. Some of the images portray Napoleon as a victor, including one that shows him leading the charge at the Battle of Waterloo as if he had won.

“We have a sizeable collection about Napoleon and the period in general, but also prints and various items. We tried to showcase a little bit of everything. One of them is an interesting panorama of Napoleon’s funeral that was produced back in the 1840s,” Dr. Alexander Mikaberidze, Professor of History, Ruth Herring Noel Endowed Chair for the Curatorship of the James Smith Noel Collection said. “It is one of the very few copies available in the United States. It shows the entire procession as it was taking place in December of 1841. They can also see hand-painted medallions that were produced back in 1816-1817 to commemorate the British victories over Napoleon.”

The reason Dr. Mikaberidze chose to highlight Napoleon’s birthday was because of the French General’s significance in history, as well as his influence on Louisiana. Louisiana adopted much of the French culture and language before Napoleon’s sale of it to the United States in 1803. In fact, many Napoleonic War Veterans migrated to Louisiana after the war, and many towns are named after battles they won. For example, Jena, LA is named after a German town where they were victorious.

“If Napoleon is famous for anything, if we can just name one thing, it’s not actually battles, but the legal system he created, the famous Napoleonic Code. That code was introduced in parts of Louisiana and bits and pieces of it are still on the books,” Dr. Mikaberidze said.

Guests interested in further research may contact the Noel staff to reserve items. The exhibit is open to the public Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and is until September 30. 

The next event will be held in collaboration with the R.W. Norton Art Gallery. The exhibition will showcase movie posters from around the world about Napoleon and the time period he lived in. The show, titled “Little Corporal on the Big Screen: The Film Posters of Napoleon Bonaparte”, contains approximately three dozen movie posters from Japan, Argentina, Cuba, England, The United States, and France. The posters range from the early 1900s all the way through 2012. Each poster is diverse in how it portrays Napoleon. Some show him in a negative light, while others romanticize him. 

“I’m a big movie fan, and I was talking with a friend of mine who happens to have a large collection of Napoleon movie posters. He said “hey I’m trying to organize something to display them.”- it was a meeting of like-minds,” Dr. Mikaberidze said. “We decided to go through his amazing collection of posters, and I selected about three dozen posters plus material that went along with it, such as movie brochures published in the 1930, 40s, and 50s. I then approached the Norton Art Gallery, which is one of the best private galleries in the United States. They were very kind enough to agree to have a joint event.”

The posters will be displayed at the gallery from September 13- October 13, with a kick-off reception on September 13 from 5-7 p.m. This free event will have light refreshments, and feature talks by Dr. Mikaberidze and Professor Michael Creswell from Florida State University, the owner of the collection.

Finally, the Robinson Film Center has agreed to host a Napoleon Film Festival, featuring Napoleonic films every other Thursday starting on September 12. Dr. Mikaberidze will deliver a short talk before each movie. 

“I want to stress that you don’t have to like Napoleon to come. He is a really tough historic individual to deal with; he’s very complex. The first movie that will be shown is a comedy which explores the idea of what if Napoleon had escaped from his exile.” Dr. Mikaberidze said. “These are the kinds of movies that provide interesting subject matter from unique perspectives, whether you like Napoleon or not.”

More information on these events can be found at jsnoelcollection.org, the Noel Collection Facebook page, and rwnaf.org

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