1814 Celebrating Peace: Regency England and the First Summer of Love
20th June - 13th September 2014
In the summer of 1814 celebrations were held in London and across Britain on the occasion of the signing of the Treaty of Paris on 30 May. The treaty saw peace return to Europe after some twenty years of conflict with the exile of the Emperor Napoleon to Elba and the restoration of the Bourbon monarchy. The various events staged across the United Kingdom were the first such nation-wide celebration to mark a significant event - such as the Treaty.
The exhibition will include material from a private collection as well as material from the Soane. Soane was involved in the celebrations held for the official guests invited to London. He then travelled to Paris as soon as the peace of 1814 made such trips possible for British travellers (he made another, similar journey in 1819). As one contemporary writer put it, the summer of 1814 saw: ‘the English popping across the Channel like champagne corks released from a bottle, eager to visit a country that had been so long out of bounds…’as one author has put it. The Paris that confronted them was one of marked contrasts between the splendours of its architecture, the metropolitan pleasures that it offered and the destitution of many of its inhabitants caused by two army occupations.
Soane admired Napoleon as a self-made man and also for his architectural improvements to Paris and he collected a small, but significant, number of examples of Napoleonica. These rarely seen items, alongside documents, contemporary images of the celebrations and other commemorative material will form the displays at the Soane. The exhibition is accompanied by an illustrated catalogue.