Face to Face: Dame Rosalind Savill in conversation with the Duke of Wellington
B1 Monday 15th June, 2.30pm – 5.00pm
In this conversation Dame Rosalind and the 9th Duke of Wellington will consider the Battle of Waterloo and the bicentenary celebrations at Apsley House, its collections and the artistic legacy of the 1st Duke of Wellington.
For Charles, 9th Duke of Wellington, 18 June 2015 is a stupendous day, celebrating the bicentenary of the 1st Duke’s defeat of Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo. The 1st Duke bought Apsley House at Hyde Park Corner in 1817 as a showpiece for the extraordinary paintings and works of art bestowed on him by the grateful nations of Europe, and today it is the home of the present Duke and his family. The Duke takes a keen curatorial interest in its intimate magnificence, and his passion for the works of art it contains includes the urge to fill it with even more treasures than it has now. This discussion will consider how these collections still represent a remarkable era in our national history, and how vital the family’s interest is in the continuing success of Apsley House.
Prior to the above conversation Dame Rosalind will introduce the historian Count Adam Zamoyski who will lecture on “Napoleon – The Man and the Phenomenon”. Count Zamoyski is the author of several books on the Napoleonic era.
There will be a brief interval between the lecture and the conversation with the Duke of Wellington
“Napoleon – the Man and the Phenomenon”
The story of Napoleon is epic: a little backwoodsman from Corsica became emperor of the French and dominated Europe, creating and dismissing kings, redrawing the map of the Continent and laying down laws which govern most of it today. Although he was a brilliant strategist with extraordinary intellectual powers and a prodigious capacity for work, Napoleon could never have achieved this on his own. As well as being its leader, he was the figurehead and the conduit for a great movement of national regeneration, political, intellectual, cultural and social, which grew out of the bloody crucible of the Revolution and created not just modern France but much of the Europe of today. The most brilliant men of the time, soldiers, statesmen, scientists and artists combined in this extraordinary enterprise. As established religion had been discredited and pushed out of public life in the course of the eighteenth century, they took their moral cue from antiquity: the Age of neo-Classicism was not merely something affecting the arts and architecture, it was a harking back to the heroic times when everything was possible, great men were demigods and a new world could be created.
Napoleon’s Egyptian campaign, which laid the foundations of Egyptology, his looting of works of art from all over Europe, his foundation of the Louvre, his promotion of the empire style in manufacturing, his patronage of the Sevres porcelain works and his monumental building projects were all part of this grand vision.
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