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The Empress Josephine and the Artists of her Time. Stephen Duffy Monday 11 March 2019

Napoleon’s Empress, Josephine de Beauharnais, was a passionate gardener, book collector, patroness and art collector. Her reputation in France and abroad for generosity, charm and gentleness of manner was of enormous value to Napoleon as a feminine counterpart to the otherwise military and legalistic tenor of his regime.  Countless contemporaries emphasized her sensitivity and genuine interest in the visual arts – often no doubt in part as a contrast to her husband. This talk will explain the range of her cultural activities, including her acquisition of a large and distinguished collection of paintings, including by far the most important group of works by an entirely new school of painting, the Troubadour pictures of beautifully crafted historical scenes. Indeed, as will be explained, among female royal collectors, her only superior is the incomparable Catherine the Great.