Memories of Napoleon's wars, by Louis François Lejeune, general and painter in his spare time
Vue d'un bivouac de l'Empereur avant la bataille d'Austerlitz © EPV, J.M. Manaï
From 14 February to 13 May 2012, The Château of Versailles presents the exhibition Napoleon's Wars. Louis François Lejeune, general and painter. The latter's unequalled career offers us a unique gateway into the wars undertaken by Napoléon at the dawn of the 19th century.
From 14 February to 13 May 2012
In the African and Crimean rooms of the Château of Versailles
Return to the career of an exceptional personality
Louis François Lejeune (1775-1848) was an unusual personality, at one and the same time soldier, spy, painter and diplomat. Trained in landscape painting by Pierre-Henri de Valenciennes, he packed his bags and left at 17 to enrol in the Compagnie des Arts students' army unit. From there he experienced a dazzling rise. Second lieutenant in engineering in 1794 in Holland, aide-de-camp to Marshal Berthier from 1800 à 1812, brigadier general during the campaign in Russia… for twenty years he took part in seventeen military campaigns. However, he did not lose sight of his first vocation as a painter. After the success of The Battle of Marengo, exhibited in 1801, he undertook a cycle of battle pictures where armed combat cohabited with long slow hours in bivouacs and sieges.
A witness at the heart of the action
The exhibition brings together the drawings and pictures of Louis François Lejeune confronted with those of artists of his time, but also with personal memories of his military and civil life under the Empire, the Restoration and the July monarchy.
So, as well as his personality and his life, visitors will discover an account of Napoleon's wars. From Aboukir to Austerlitz, twelve pictures representing battle scenes are unveiled to the public for the first time. Real historical documents retracing the Napoleonic epic, these pictures with a thousand details also form part of propaganda in favour of the Emperor.