Current Exhibition

Peace Breaks Out!  London and Paris in the summer of 1814

20 June - 13 September 2014

In the centenary year of the start of the First World War, Sir John Soane’s Museum presents Peace Breaks Out! (20 June – 13 September) an exhibition focusing on the summer of 1814, when Europe celebrated peace after the Treaty of Paris following the fall of Napoleon.

Displaying over 100 rare pieces from the museum and private collections, the exhibition will explore this pivotal moment in the history of Europe, through the eyes of its contemporaries. Pieces on show include celebratory paintings and prints created for the festivities held in London and across the United Kingdom to mark the Treaty; drawings of Paris demonstrating the architectural changes that took place under Napoleon’s government; Sir John Soane’s collection of Napoleonica – objects belonging to Napoleon and his closest collaborators; and a quirky, satirical depiction of Englishmen visiting Paris, as seen by the French.

Dr Jerzy J. Kierkuć-Bieliński, Exhibitions Curator at Sir John Soane’s Museum, explains:

"The Peace of 1814 and the subsequent congress of Vienna in 1815, after the final defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo, laid the geo-political framework of the European Empires that would dominate the Continent and much of the globe up to the outbreak of the First World War. The Allies who celebrated the signing of the Treaty as guests of the Prince Regent in London, would, almost exactly one hundred years later face each on the battlefields of Europe – this time as enemies. In many ways, to understand the origins of the First World War, one has to look at the events of 1814 and the false promise of lasting peace that it offered".

Historian Alexander Rich, co-curator, comments:

‘We are now as far away from the outbreak of the First World War as the protagonists of that conflict were from the Peace Celebrations of 1814. This exhibition looks for the first time at a very specific time in the artistic production of Europe, and offers a different, perhaps hidden perspective, on the events that have shaped the world as we know it today’.


Peace Breaks Out! In the Breakfast Room

Drawing inspiration from the exhibition Sir John Soane’s Museum, working with Spitalfields Life, presents this accompanying display Peace Breaks Out! In the Breakfast Room. The Soane and its collection continues to engage artists and inspire creativity. It is in this spirit that six contemporary artists, whose work is inspired by the culturally vibrant city of London, offer their 21st-century interpretations of the Peace of 1814 and of the Regency and Parisian fashions that were so celebrated that year. The six artists are Adam Dant, Romilly Saumarez Smith, Laura Knight, Alice Pattullo, Bridie Hall and Paul Bommer.

All the modern treasures that are on display are available for purchase from the Soane Shop or online.


Soane Shop

A fully illustrated catalogue accompanies the exhibition, featuring images of the objects on display, and can be purchased from the Soane Shop or online


Napoleonica in the Soane Trail

For many Britons Napoleon was a figure of fascination. He was admired by the poets Keats and Byron and the writer William Hazlitt. Sir John Soane evidently shared this fascination and purposely sought out items with a Napoleonic connection to add to his collection. Soane also much admired the architectural changes that Paris had undergone during Napoleon’s reign. This trail guides visitors to items of Napoleonica which Soane placed on permanent display within the Museum. Click here to download the trail.


Peace Breaks Out! London and Paris in the summer of 1814 and Peace Breaks Out! In the Breakfast Room run from 20 June until 13 September. Entry is free. For more information about visiting Sir John Soane's Museum please click here.

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Peace Breaks Out! is part of the London Festival of Architecture 2014. Accompanying the exhibition are The Architect and the Model Tours, curator-led tours of the Soane’s model collection.