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Napoleons´s Wedding

An exhibition to commemorate the bicentennial of his marriage to Archduchess Marie Louise of Austria

In the spring of 1810 the French Emperor Napoleon married the Austrian Archduchess Marie Louise. Romantic emotions were probably not involved in this alliance: a few months earlier the bridegroom had separated from his beloved first wife, Joséphine, who could not bear him children. By marrying the eighteen-year-old Habsburg princess he hoped for an heir and to increase his prestige. The bride, however, had been brought up despising Napoleon as the worst enemy of her father, Emperor Francis. But she yielded to reasons of state, regarding her marriage to an arch-enemy of the Habsburgs who was much older than herself as a personal sacrifice for Emperor and country.

The exhibition focuses on the history of this unusual “marriage of enemies“, bringing to life the splendid festivities with the help of selected original objects. Highlights of the show are the Parisian wedding-carriage that features subtly erotic decorations, and the large-scale depiction of the ceremony in which Marie Louise was handed over to the representative of her future husband, Marshal Berthier. Visitors can compare the sumptuous robes depicted in the painting with the clothes worn by French and Austrian courtiers for the wedding celebrations that are on show in the exhibition. Of particular interest is a spectacular court dress made of white silk and net lace with rich gold embroidery and a long train that was worn at the wedding in Paris and that is on show in Vienna for the first time.


22 June 2010
to 9 January 2011

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