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THE ESPRIT

Art and culture

Ajaccio, Palazzo Fesch in a nineteenth–century photograph
Ajaccio, Palazzo Fesch in a nineteenth–century photograph

Attention to the world of art and culture was a defining characteristic of the Napoleonic period: through these, it was possible to give precise direction to large sectors of the Empire, characterizing it and qualifying it in the specifically desired way.
Napoleon’s work to reform the universities goes in this direction, playing out in Pisa in the complete re–organization of the University and the foundation of a branch of the Ecole Normale in Paris, toward creating a ruling class prepared and capable of operating within the complex workings of the state machine.
But the “politics of beauty” of the Napoleonic rulers pursued analogous if however less explicit ends, often supported by authentic personal passions: a wide–ranging patronage that involved all of the arts, united in presenting the image of a glorious Empire.

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