Staging Power by European Monarchs

In partnership with the State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, the Nationalmuseum in Stockholm presents a major exhibition on some of the world’s most powerful rulers of the early 19th century. Emperor Napoleon, Tsar Alexander and King Karl Johan of Sweden (Jean Baptiste Bernadotte (1763-1844), French General and Swedish king from 1818-1844) represent an era when a new world of imagery was developing as a result of Europe’s political upheavals between 1810 and 1815. This large-scale exhibition will consider topics such as visual manifestations of power, international politics and dynastic family ties, and art collectings. Some 400 works will be on show, from portraits, uniforms, jewelry and tea services. The main characters of the exhibition were masters of that art. Art was (and is) an important means by which rulers established legitimacy and exerted their influence. It reflected the rulers’ self-image and pretentions. The rulers on display exploited the full potential of art to strenghten their grip on power and they left nothing to chance.