Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Napoleon at the Museum

The Montreal museum of fine arts is having an exhibition on Napoleon. The emphasis of the exhibition is on art and court life in the imperial palace.

Montreal always has an exhibit on Napoleon (this is the third I've seen) as the museum has a large collection that was donated to them. At this particular visit, they had four court dresses on display as well as a large collection of paintings and other objects used by the imperial court. This is the first time I went with a goal to study embroidery. I spent a lot of time looking at the court dresses, three of which were embroidered with metal and one in silk, but I also spent a lot of time looking at the paintings. You'd be surprised by how much detail is in them.

This piece is a mosaic made in Italy to showcase their craft.

There were a few examples of French lace as well. I love the hem on this dress.

My favorite at the exhibition is this dark green court dress with goldwork embroidery.

Now for the court dresses. Just to note these were livery, meaning they were worn by what amounts to servants for special court events. The first one was embroidered in silver. I noticed a lot of palm trees with lots of cutwork and spangles.

This is the second piece is very similar to the first but there is also satin stitching using metal thread.

There was also a dress worn by a court lady embroidered in metal plate. My pictures really didn't come out well but Natalie of Sew by Hand took some good ones with her professional camera that you can see here.

The last piece embroidered in silk on velvet that looks amazing for it's age.

The color is gorgeous too, a dark purple with a leaf motif.

How cute are those little flowers with the French knots.

There is a 350-page book available that catalogs the collection available to buy from the museum. They don't have an online shop, but the book is available to pre-order from Amazon. I decided to not buy it as it didn't have much embroidery content. Instead, I found a lovely book in French on Josephine's fashion. There are lovely pictures of her court dresses and accessories. It's now on my bedside table waiting for me to read.


  1. Fabulous embroidery! I am with you love books with lots of wonderful embroidery pictures!

  2. If you get to Paris, go to Josephine's chateau of Malmaison. After the divorce, she planted a beautiful garden....

  3. I love exhibitions like this! I’m really going to miss them when I go back. I too love the paintings as well as the dresses. What a great privilege to be able to dedicate time to studying the pieces!

  4. Gorgeous! Thanks for sharing your photos!

  5. What a wonderful exhibition. Those paintings are stunning and the costumes are gorgeous too.

  6. Gosh, those dresses are gorgeous, both the real ones and those in the drawings. To think how much time, effort and skill went into making these, and all without a lot of the resources we have today!