Amusements and Luxurious Gratification: The British in Paris in 1814
20th June - 13th September 2014
Paris seems at first sight a place devoted solely to enjoyment, and it is difficult to devise how everyone is so well provided with the means. In the principal streets, almost every second house has apart of it devoted to amusement, or luxurious gratification of some sort. Thus, wrote John Scott, editor of the Champion weekly literary and political periodical of his visit to Paris in the summer of 1814 following the exile of Napoleon to Elba and the signing of the Treaty of Paris between France and the Coalition.
Horace Vernet (1789-1863)
Les Anglais à Paris, 1815
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. Sir John Soane was amongst this group of eager English visitors and was particularly impressed by Napoleon’s architectural achievements. However, other English visitors, such as Scott were struck by the city’s vivacity – so unlike London. This exhibition, commemorating the 200th anniversary of the Treaty, will look at the impact that Paris had on its British visitors during the heady summer of 1814 and how that influenced the architecture, arts and fashion of Regency Britain. (Details of this exhibition are subject to possible change).