[Napoleon Bonaparte]

Napoleon's Nephew "Prince Napoleon" Re: 1855 Paris Universal Exposition, France's Answer to the 1851 Crystal Palace Exposition


Napoleon's Nephew "Prince Napoleon" Re: 1855 Paris Universal Exposition, France's Answer to the 1851 Crystal Palace Exposition

 

1p LS in French signed by Napoleon Joseph Charles Paul Bonaparte (1822-1891), Napoleon Bonaparte's nephew, as "Napoleon Bonaparte" at center bottom. On "Imperial Commission / of the Universal Exposition / General Secretariat" partly printed letterhead. Letter No. 2802 was written in Paris, France on August 31, 1855, and addressed to "Sir Count de Morny, President of the Legislative Body." Blank inner pages, with a later pencil inscription on the fourth page. With expected paper folds, else near fine. 8" x 12.375".

 

Translated:

 

"Sir Count, I am preoccupied by His Majesty's desire to postpone the Jury meeting, set to review the three classes of Decorative Arts, to 15 November.

 

I regret that the necessities of service, and especially the month's delay, absolutely necessary in redirecting and impressing the Jury between the date of their last vote and the closure of the Exposition, do not permit this postponement; after having examined the matter with the greatest care, I am convinced that all that it would be possible for me to do would be to postpone the Jury meeting for Decorative Arts to 15 October, instead of the 1st of the same month.

 

It will be necessary, however, that the delay does not prejudice the group of works, and that the members of the Jury of Decorative Arts proceed individually to evaluate the exhibited works, in a manner that, at the 15 October meeting, the Jury can determine, by class, the number of medals of honor and medals of the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd class to be distributed, and to then vote by ballot in accordance with articles 12, 13, and 14 of the May 10, 1855 decree.

 

Be assured, Sir Count, of my highest esteem.

 

The President of the Imperial Commission,

 

[signed] Napoleon Bonaparte."

 

Napoleon Joseph Charles Paul Bonaparte, more commonly known as Prince Napoleon, or more familiarly as Plon-Plon, was Napoleon Bonaparte's nephew. He was the second son of Napoleon's youngest brother Jerome Bonaparte (1784-1860), who had served as King of Westphalia between 1807-1813. Prince Napoleon's cousin Louis Napoleon had overthrown the Second Republic and named himself Emperor Napoleon III in 1852.

 

Prince Napoleon led a special Imperial Commission tasked with organizing France's response to Britain's hugely popular 1851 Crystal Palace Exposition. Emperor Napoleon III issued two decrees in March and June 1853 declaring his intention to host a comparable exposition in Paris in 1855. The exposition took place between May-November 1855, and showcased the best of French agriculture, fine arts, and industry. Approximately 24,000 exhibitors displayed their wares before an estimated 5,000,000 visitors.

 

Napoleon III's Universal Exposition was not just a nationalist exercise designed to trump Victorian England. A healthy amount of competition among exhibitors, whose works were evaluated by juries, sparked creativity and innovation. As mentioned in this letter, gold, silver, and bronze medals were distributed, as well as honorable mention designations, at a November 15, 1855 ceremony.

 

Prince Napoleon's correspondent, Charles Auguste Louis Joseph, Count of Morny (1811-1865) was an indirect member of the House of Bonaparte. Through his mother, Hortense de Beauharnais, De Morny was the illegitimate grandson of Josephine Beauharnais, Napoleon Bonaparte's first wife, and a half-brother of Napoleon III.

 

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