The First Art Newspaper on the Net Established in 1996 United States Friday, August 22, 2014


Bonaparte at the Scheldt: Antwerp swept along in a current of French aspirations
Mathieu Ignace Van Bree, The Emperor and Empress visit the squadron in the Scheldt at anchor and go on board the Charlemagne on May 1, 1810. Musée National des Châteaux de Versailles et de Trianon (Versailles), MV1755. Photo: © RMN - Grand Palace (Chateau de Versailles) / Franck Raux.
ANTWERP.- Vive Napoléon?! 2013 is the 200th anniversary of the Willem Dock’s inauguration. The occasion provides us with a reason to celebrate and review two effervescent decades in the history of Antwerp. From 1794 to 1814, the city on the Scheldt found itself under French rule. It was to be a period that would completely change the city and the lives of its inhabitants.

In the July of 1803, Antwerp played host to a visit by Napoleon Bonaparte who, at the time, was still the First Consul of France. Only one year later he proclaimed himself emperor. Affectionately referred to by his soldiers as ‘le petit caporal’ (the Little Corporal), Napoleon had ambitious plans for the port city. These included the need to build a tidal harbour with two docks inside the northern ramparts, surrounding this with a large commercial district.

The plans had to be slightly adjusted, but their essence remained the same. By the end of Napoleonic rule, construction of both Le Petit Bassin and Le Grand Bassin had been completed. Their main advantage was a steady water level. They were also the inspiration for the later dockyards. Nowadays, the ‘Klainen Basseng’ (Minor Dock) and the ‘Groaten Basseng’ (Great Dock) are known respectively as the Bonaparte Dock (built 1811) and the Willem Dock (built 1813). These are the two large docks either side of the MAS.

In 1794, ten years before Napoleon’s visit, the French had already been responsible for Antwerp regaining its access to the North Sea. Previously, free navigation of the Western Scheldt estuary had not been possible since 1585. Numerous important shipping companies returned to Antwerp and, after two lean centuries, the city regained its influence in world trade.

The port took on a modern appearance. Plans to straighten and modernise the quays were drafted. Napoleon ordered the construction of not only a tidal harbour, but also a shipyard for naval vessels. Antwerp became his empire’s main military port. It seemed to him to be the perfect operating base from which to prepare an invasion of Great Britain.

The French were a commanding presence. Antwerp found itself in a constant state of war. Military service and employment were mandatory. The impact on culture was also great. The French city architect François Verly drew up revolutionary plans for urban renewal. However, these proved a bridge too far. Antwerp’s city council retained only the Place Bonaparte, the present Groenplaats and the Leopoldplaats.

Nevertheless, public parks did meet with approval and many houses were designed and furnished in the French Empire style, replete with references to Ancient Egyptian and Roman style. The Palace on the Meir is a fine example of this. However, what the French gave to Antwerp, they also took away in equal measure. At the beginning of French rule, numerous art treasures were moved from religious buildings to Paris. The greater part of these was returned in 1815.

What did the French achieve? What would their further plans have entailed? And how did those 20 years of French rule alter the dynamics and appearance of Antwerp? ‘Bonaparte at the Scheldt’ tries to bring this extraordinary legacy together using paintings, prints, plans, maps, model ships and records from the archives. A diary brings that past back to life as experienced by one of Antwerp’s citizens, while English cartoons viciously lampoon the French. ‘Bonaparte at the Scheldt’ also sheds light on remnants of the Napoleonic era that can still be viewed to this day.

Showing at the MAS from 23 March to 30 June 2013.



Today's News

March 27, 2013

Steven Cohen buys Pablo Picasso's 'Le Reve' from casino owner Steve Wynn for $155 million

Sotheby's Geneva to offer magnificent jewels from The Collection of Gina Lollobrigida

Bonaparte at the Scheldt: Antwerp swept along in a current of French aspirations

Ringling Museum of Art announces acquisition of rare painting by Rubens' Master

Mexican artist Pedro Reyes uses illegal firearms to fabricate musical instruments

Christie's Private Sales installs Claes Oldenburg's "Typewriter Eraser" in its Sculpture Garden

Spring auctions at Koller Zurich: A re-discovered early work by Guido Reni sells for CHF 1.2 million

Arthur Millner's first Indian and Islamic Works of Art Online Auction to take place on 23rd April

The Fruitmarket Gallery needs your water for an artwork bringing together water from all the world's seas

Getty Museum exhibition presents two sides of modern Japanese photography

Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute opens exhibition by winner of curatorial challenge

The National Museum of Ireland acquires an important mid-15th century copper alloy altar cross

Major installation by internationally celebrated Russian artists Ilya and Emilia Kabakov, opens at Ambika P3

Cuban artist Esterio Segura's Goodbye My Love now installed in Times Square

The Heshui White Paper Workshop Ensemble: The Art of Paper Making

Sotheby's to sell duplicate stamps from the British Postal Museum & Archive in London in July 2013

Morphy's April 27 Premier Doll Auction led by fancy French 'Golden Age' bisque dolls

From coral to floral: Bonhams Spring Salon Jewelry Sale achieves strong results

Art Dubai wraps up most successful fair to date

Bonhams auction of Laverty Collection becomes the most successful contemporary art sale in Australia

Most Popular Last Seven Days



1.- Mystery over massive Alexander the Great-era tomb unearthed in northern Greece

2.- An ancient money box containing a large rare hoard of coins found in Israel

3.- Robin Williams' portrait installed today at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington

4.- The Baltimore Museum of Art announces three new contemporary exhibitions in fall

5.- New Aspen Art Museum designed by architect Shigeru Ban opens to the public

6.- New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art launches 82nd & Fifth app in 12 languages

7.- MoMA online-only publication features new research on Pablo Picasso and Cubism

8.- Volunteers needed for massive Smithsonian digitization project

9.- Tate Britain welcomes home John Everett Millais's Ophelia and Rossetti’s The Beloved

10.- Bogart estate: Hollywood golden age icon Lauren Bacall dead at 89 in New York



Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .

 

Founder:
Ignacio Villarreal
Editor & Publisher: Jose Villarreal - Consultant: Ignacio Villarreal Jr.
Art Director: Juan José Sepúlveda Rmz. - Marketing: Carla Gutiérrez
Special Contributor: Liz Gangemi - Special Advisor: Carlos Amador
Contributing Editor: Carolina Farias

Royalville Communications, Inc
produces:

ignaciovillarreal.org theavemaria.org juncodelavega.org facundocabral-elfinal.org
Founder's Site. The most varied versions
of this beautiful prayer.
Hommage
to a Mexican poet.
Hommage
       

The First Art Newspaper on the Net. The Best Versions Of Ave Maria Song Junco de la Vega Site Ignacio Villarreal Site