After Un Soir chez la princesse Mathilde, une Bonaparte et les arts in 2019, an exhibition dedicated to her brother prince Napoleon better known as « Plon-Plon » and his relationship to arts seemed the natural follow-up to feed the curiosity of the good people of Ajaccio, who always had a special link to King Jerome’s youngest son.
Plon-Plon was no doubt the most vilified Bonaparte of his time. The « dark legend » made him a simple agitator with a licentious lifestyle and steamy affairs, a spoiled child wallowing in a posture of systematic opposition.
The exhibition pays homage to a passionate Bonapartist, of sure taste and extensive culture.
Plon-Plon represents a true republican and socialist ideal buried inside the imperial family, faithful to the ideas of the Revolution, anti-slavery and anticlerical, trusting in the progress made by arts and science, defensor of the principle of nationalit self-determination.
Under the reign of his cousin Napoleon III he supported artists, collected ancient art as well as antiques and contemporary works and had his residence built in the Palais-Royal, in front of the Louvre. He had the Pompeian House built for him on Avenue Montaigne, a true archeological dream inspired by his writer friends Théophile Gautier, Arsène Houssaye and Alexandre Dumas, the last of whom he had discovered in his youth the island that would become the imaginary hideout of the Count of Monte-Cristo. His good friend George Sand used to invite him to Nohant and they exchanged letters where he reveals his true self, sincere and idealistic but imprisoned by his official function.
Archeologist and bibliophile, he was also a soldier, as attested by the two masterpieces of Horace Vernet and Isidore Pils currently owned by the Ajaccio Museum, is an explorer worthy of Jules Verne’s heroes. As a major personality who remained in the shadows of History for far too long, he deserved nothing less than an exhibition in the birthplace of the Bonaparte family, Corsica, an island beloved by his bold traveller’s heart.