Napoleon and Venice

A detail of the painting of the Piazza San Marco looking westwards by Canaletto
In 1797 the forces of the young general, Napoleon Bonaparte, brought an end to the thousand-year-old Venetian Republic.

Ten years later, as Emperor, Napoleon would leave his imprint on the architecture of the space he is said to have called the 'finest drawing-room in Europe'.


The west end of the Piazza San Marco originally comprised the church of San Geminiano, flanked by the Procuratie Vecchie and the Procuratie Nuove, as we can see (above) in a painting from the late 1730s by Canaletto. 
The Ala Napoleonica, Piazza San Marco, Venice
However, in 1807, following the reoccupation of the city by the forces of Napoleon, all three buildings were swept away to be replaced by the lavish residence of the new Viceroy, Napoleon's stepson, Eugene de Beauharnais

This neo-classical pile, the work of Giovanni Antonio Antolini, Giuseppe Soli and Lorenzo Santi, was crowned with an attic storey adorned with statues of Roman emperors and allegorical scenes. 

The central space was reserved for a statue of Napoleon, who had declared himself emperor in 1804. 
The central part of the frieze of the Ala Napoleonica, Piazza San Marco, Venice
But this was never to be.

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