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04 June 2015

Napoléon 1er (1909)

On 18 June it will be exactly 200 years since the French emperor Napoléon Bonaparte was finally defeated by the allied British, Prussian, Dutch and Belgian troops near the Belgian village of Waterloo. The battle not only marked the end of Napoleon, but also the beginning of modern Europe. Yesterday, a presentation on 200 years of Waterloo opened in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. The centrepiece of this presentation is the largest painting (5.67 x 8.23 meters) of the Rijksmuseum, The Battle of Waterloo by Jan Willem Pieneman from 1824. At La Collectionneuse, Marlène Pilaete made a beautiful gallery post 'Napoléon et ces dames', with postcards and bios of 14 actresses who portrayed the women around Napoléon in films. At Flickr, we posted a series of Belgian postcards on the Waterloo Panorama near Brussels, painted 1911, so almost a century after the famous Battle of Waterloo (1815). And this post at EFSP is about the silent Pathé Frères film Napoléon 1er, aka Napoléon (1909).

Napoléon 1er. Le pont d'Arcole
French postcard by PC, no. 4156. Photo: Pathé Frères. Publicity still for Napoléon 1er/Napoléon (1909). Caption: Passage de Pont d'Arcole (Passing the Bridge of Arcole). This postcard seems to have been inspired by Horace Vernet's 1826 painting Bataille du Pont d'Arcole, now at Christie's, London.

Napoléon 1er. Le couronnement
French postcard by PC, no. 4157. Photo: Pathé Frères. Publicity still for Napoléon 1er/Napoléon (1909). Caption: Le Couronnement (The Coronation). This postcard is a reduced, tableau vivant-like citation of Jacques-Louis David's famous painting The Consecration of the Emperor Napoléon I and Coronation of the Empress Josephine (1805-1807) now at the Louvre, Paris.

Napoléon 1er. Austerlitz
French postcard by PC, no. 4157. Photo: Pathé Frères. Publicity still for Napoléon 1er/Napoléon (1909). Caption: Austerlitz.

Napoleon blessé à Ratisbonne
French postcard by Rex, no. 4156. Photo: publicity still for Napoléon (1909), by Pathé Frères.

Unknown director


The short silent film Napoléon 1er/Napoléon (1909) was made in two parts. Napoleon Bonaparte was played by Maximilien Charlier, the director of the film is unknown. The film was released by Pathé in May 1909.

Almost all the cards (the series is alas incomplete) refer to the first part:
1- Siège de Toulon (novembre 1793)
2- Arcole (novembre 1796)
3- Campagne d’Égypte (juillet 1798)
4- Passage du Saint Bernard (novembre 1799)
5- La Malmaison (juin 1800)
6- Le Couronnement (décembre 1804)
7- Austerlitz (décembre 1805)
8- Ratisbonne (avril 1809)
9- Présentation du Roi de Rome (mars 1811).

The second part of the film consists of:
1- Incendie de Moscou (septembre 1812)
2- Napoléon et le Pape (janvier 1813)
3- L’abdication et les adieux de Fontainebleau (avril 1814)
4- Waterloo (juin 1815)
5- Captivité et mort le 5 mai 1821

An additional card which is not mentioned at the site of the Pathé archives, shows the snowball fight at the Ecole de Brienne.

Napoléon Ier. Les adieux de Fontainebleau
French postcard by PC, no. 4157. Photo: Pathé Frères. Publicity still for Napoléon 1er/Napoléon (1909). Caption: Les adieux de Fontainebleau. This postcard is vaguely inspired by Horace Vernet's Napoléon Leaves the Guard, 1814 (1825).

Napoléon I. Une fête à Malmaison
French postcard by PC, no. 4156. Photo: Pathé Frères. Publicity still for Napoléon 1er/Napoléon (1909). Caption: Une fête à Malmaison (Feast at Malmaison). The Chateau de Malmaison in the background seems to have been taken from a painting by François Flameng, Reception at Malmaison in 1802 (1894).

Napoléon 1er. La présentation du Roi de Rome
French postcard by PC, no. 4157. Photo: Pathé Frères. Publicity still for Napoléon 1er/Napoléon (1909). Caption: La présentation du Roi de Rome.

Napoléon à Brienne
French postcard by PC, no 4156. Photo: publicity still for either Napoléon (1909), by Pathé Frères.


A black and white version of the film. Source: The Great Classics (YouTube).

Sources: Fondation Jerome Seydoux (French), Rijksmuseum, Flickr, La Collectionneuse (French) and IMDb.

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