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Bernard Chevallier, Pierre-Jean Chalençon and Ken Richards
Fragment of Toile de Jouy of showing General Bonaparte and the Goddess of Plenty. Circa 1797
I am a ‘New Zealander’ living in Sydney Australia, who sometimes wished he lived in Paris! Luckily I have been able to spend a bit of time there and I hope to be back there very soon.
Thanks for taking the time to view my web site and if you feel like you want to ask any questions I'd be very pleased to hear from you.
Ken Richards - Sydney, Australia
That’s a question I get asked a lot. For me, Napoleon’s military career is not the centre of my interest. It's the other Napoleon that fascinates me. The man who encouraged the arts, built and resurrected the French Code Civil, the Conseil d'Etat, the Banque de France, the legion d'honnour...
I see Napoleon as the administrator who chose to govern by committee, promoting and recognising talent over the old system of ‘birthright’. Far from being a dictator who sort to impose his will over all, he actually sort out the opinions of others. He reached out to aristocrats and reformers alike to create his new government. In practical terms Napoleon was a master in the art of managing men at the individual and masses level.
Certainly there are ‘black marks’ against him and he could be a contradiction at times, but I think he was a man ahead of his time.
My interest in the Napoleonic period started some 25 years ago when a friend, knowing I had more than a passing interest in history, gave me the book 'The Reluctant King' - Joseph Bonaparte, King of the Two Sicilies and Spain by Michael Glover. After reading the first few pages I knew I was hooked.
Collecting has dominated a large part of my life for the last twelve years! Not a day goes by when I am not researching something, trying to find pictures similar to an item I might have come across, or scanning the Net for items for sale. It can be a very solitary interest but the Internet has helped. So has the friendship of people like Bernard Chevallier who retired a few years back from his role as Director of Malmaison, the Parisian home of Napoleon and Josephine.
As for the items I have in my collection, I will admit to having had some amazing luck with finding some of them.... But there's also the odd horror story!
Collecting is all about the research, the ferreting, the anticipation, the arrival and the display of the new find… but probably the most fun is talking to anyone who has been interested enough to ask about the new addition!