Salon Napoleonien in Ajaccio is a museum (open since 1830) within the city hall, showcasing events and successes from Napoleon Bonaparte’s life.
The museum building, the city hall, Hôtel de Ville Ajaccio, was constructed during the reign of King Charles X, from 1824-1830.
Hôtel de Ville Ajaccio is located within Place Foch square, near Fontaine des Quatre Lions, which contains one of the most famous Napoleon statues in Ajaccio.
PHOTO: Hôtel de Ville Ajaccio, as seen from Place Foch, near the place, from where the Petit Train de Ajaccio (www.petit-train-ajaccio.com) mini-trains depart for their (two) sightseeing routes.
The building contains Salon Napoléonien museum, with collection of paintings and sculptures from the reign of Ajaccio-born Napoleon Bonaparte, and other memorabilia about the imperial family.
Due to lack of space part of museum’s collection is exhibited within the nearby Musée Fesch.
The collection consists mostly of either donations or official acquisitions that have been done over the years.
First acquisitions for the collection were done in 1839, when Cardinal Fesch, also from Ajaccio, purchased a total of 31 artworks of Napoleon’s family, including paintings, sculptures, and carvings.
Part of this original collection had belonged to Madame Mère (Maria-Letizia Ramolino, Napoleon’s mother), but upon her death (in 1836), the objects ended up on the Cardinal’s collection.
When the Salon Napoleonien acquired a significant Napoleon collection from the Count of Treviso in 1893, the size of the collection rose to around 900 objects…
…but many of these invaluable objects were lost during the 20th century World Wars.
Pearls of the current collection are…
- a collection of 47 artworks, donated in 1897 by Baron Larrey,
- a collection of 118 medallions,
- two massive paintings by Vernet and Pils (exhibited within Musée Fesch), and
- two bronzeworks by Barre.
The current size of the collection is mostly from 1936, when part of the “Bacciochi” collection was acquired for the museum…
…supplemented by a donation in 1974, when danish Tave and Toge Vognsgaard gave their Napoleon collection to the museum.
Within the city hall, most of the Salle Napoleonien collections are on display on the second level of the building.
Within the museum, highlights include, in addition to the objects about Napoleon, a wall fresco by Dominique Frassat from 1940 (as an allegorical memorial to Napoleon), and the Egyptian style furniture, originally owned by Cardinal Fesch.