Paris: 1801, 1802, 1806

1801 Exposition in the courtyard of the Louvre

1801 Exposition in the courtyard of the Louvre



Arthur Chandler




"Progress of the Arts"

Though the second, third, and fourth national French expositions were held during an era when Napoleon's star was in ascendancy, the events themselves show a clear continuity with the first exposition publique des produits de l'industrie française of 1798. There was not so much fanfare surrounding the openings of the Napoleonic expositions, and no pretensions that these formal displays of French products would become a centerpiece for the new cult of Reason. But the overriding concerns of the first exposition were still uppermost in the minds of the men who conceived and staged these events during the reign of Napoleon.

Driving all three Napoleonic expositions was the national resolve to strengthen French industry, to make it equal or superior to the productive power of all other nations – and especially England's. The overt contest with British industry, the rivalry so fervently announced by Neufchâteau in 1798, (1)  would remain a dominant force in French expositions up to and including the exposition universelle of 1867. The Napoleonic expositions, like their predecessor of 1798, was viewed by the leaders of France as a series of contests: not precisely wars, but shows of strength proclaiming French ability to compete in military and economic struggles.

The directors of the three Napoleonic expositions were also guided by two other imperatives: the encouragement of French industry and manufactures for the sake of the health of France's internal economy, and the inclusion into the exposition of works produced by French citizens from virtually every walk of life. Large-scale entrepreneurs and small inventors, men and women, geniuses and incarcerated criminals – the astonishing social panorama of participants in these national expositions visibly demonstrated the egalitarian goals of the revolution made tangible and serviceable to a reborn and resurgent France.

The chemist Jean Chaptal, who had succeeded Lucien Bonaparte as Minister of the Interior, became the man responsible for the success of the second national exposition. On November 13, 1800, Chaptal sent his recommendation to the three consuls Napoleon, Sièyes and Le Brun:

The continental peace is assured, Citizen Consuls, and you must surely conclude that, in the interest of art, we should hold another Exposition during the new year's week of Year IX.  (2) 

Napoleon agreed to Chaptal's proposal. Since his overthrow of the Directory and election as First Consul in 1799, Napoleon had rapidly positioned himself at the forefront of France. His celebrated victory at Marengo on June 14, 1800, and the Treaty of Lunéville early in 1801 confirmed his role as the unchallenged leader of his country. With his encouragement, a national exposition of industrial products could do much to foster national pride and spur manufacturers to even greater efforts of innovation and production.

It is worth noting that Chaptal, here and elsewhere in his writing, refers to the products of the exposition as "art." Part of the agenda of all three Napoleonic expositions was to attempt to assign some of the prestige and soul-lifting quality of the fine arts to the products of manufacture and industry. The word "art" in France had long been applied to both what we would call the fine arts and the crafts. But traditionally the crafts were the realm of manual labor – though the Encyclopedie differentiated between the artistes whose work required a good measure of intelligence, and the artisans, whose work supposedly did not (3). In the conclusion to his final report on the 1801 exposition, Chaptal, in urging that the industrial exposition be made an annual affair, sets forth his ideas about the benefit of such an event:

Citizen Consuls, an annual exposition of the products of national industry is an institution of the greatest interest. It promotes a spirit of emulation among manufacturers; it increases their knowledge; it forms the taste of consumers by giving them an understanding of beauty; in other words, it develops the surest and most energetic motives for the progress of the arts. (4)

These words might have been taken from the charter of the Académie Royale des Beaux Arts under Louis XIV. The annual salons for painting and sculpture were instituted during the Sun King’s reign for exactly these reasons: to promote a healthy rivalry, to allow artists to learn from each other, and to improve public taste – "public" here meaning the aristocratic patrons of the fine arts – and to announce to the world French leadership in matters of taste. Chaptal takes over the agenda of the salon, applies it to the arts of industry, and democratizes its appeal by inviting all citizens of France to attend the annual exposition publique des produits de l'industrie française.

To do the actual staging of the exposition, Chaptal turned, as Neufchâteau had done before him, to François Chalgrin, future architect of the Arc de Triomphe. It was decided to hold the event from the nineteenth to the twenty-fifth of September, 1801. Almost 300 exhibitors heeded the call of the government, and came to display their products beneath the 104 temporary porticoes in the Roman style that Chalgrin had erected for the occasion.

The second national exposition publique des produits de l'industrie française took place in the courtyard of the Louvre, rather than on the field of the Champ de Mars. There were several reasons for this change of venue. To begin with, the Louvre held more prestige, partly because of its association with the more prestigious fine arts, and partly because of its historical associations with the rulers of France. By holding the industrial exposition here, visitors were encouraged to associate the high tone of the fine arts with the "mechanical" or "useful" arts. To reinforce the point, the government decreed that he annual salon would also be held concurrently inside the Louvre.

There was another, more practical reason for choosing the Louvre as the site for the exposition. In his report, Chaptal stated his belief that the exhibits would be easier to safeguard there in the very heart of Paris. The Champ de Mars, site of the first exposition and other revolutionary festivals, was remote from the well-lit center of the city, and might have become a target for nocturnal pilfering.

Soon after the opening, Napoleon himself and the other two consuls spent some three hours at the exposition. They stopped at each booth, examined products, and asked the exhibitors questions about their displays. This personal attention by the leaders of the state to the exhibitors at the exposition served to boost morale and a spirit of competition among rival manufacturers. It was one thing to be visited by the minister of the interior; it was quite another matter to be questioned with intense interest by the First Consul himself.

A Françcois-Joseph Hartmann clock exhibited at the 1801 exposition

A Françcois-Joseph Hartmann clock exhibited at the 1801 exposition

The exhibits themselves did not vary greatly from those of the 1798 exposition. There were more displays, and more prizes handed out. But, with the exception of the Jacquard loom, there were no surprises. At the final ceremonies, 12 gold, 20 silver, 30 bronze medals were awarded. Among the top prize winners were a canal lock mechanism, and particularly fine display of saws, two pottery exhibits, one for paper products, another of furniture, one of leather goods, and five for fabrics of different sorts – velours, cashmeres, cottons, etc. Top prize winners from the first exposition were declared ineligible to win gold medals, but eight were awarded honorary silver medals.

Ironically, the most important and revolutionary product introduced at this exposition was awarded only a bronze medal. In fact, it was only with many misgivings that Monsieur Joseph Jacquard agreed to exhibit at all. The Jacquard loom was the invention of this citizen of Lyon who had spent most of his life as an unsuccessful weaver, lime-burner, and fashioner of straw hats. His invention, which automated part of the process of running the loom by using punched cards to expedite the weaving process, was perceived by workers and manufacturers alike as a threat to their livelihood. The exposition jury itself had only the faintest notion of the revolutionary nature of the new process. Their final report commented only that Monsieur Jacquard's loom "replaces a worker in the weaving of brocades" – thereby stressing the one aspect of the invention that angered workers the most.

The Jacquard Loom

The Jacquard Loom

After the his loom achieved notoriety at the exposition, Jacquard returned to Lyon to find that his invention had earned him infamy. His life was threatened no fewer than six times in the next five years. The Conseil des Prud' hommes of Lyon broke up Jacquard's machine in the town square, and its iron deliberately sold for scrap. Rarely would an exposition have such a terrible effect on a man's career.

Fortunately for Jacquard and for France, high-ranking officials in Paris eventually recognized the value of his invention. Here was a machine that could give France a decisive competitive advantage over England. The government took possession of the patent for the loom in 1806, and awarded Jacquard a pension for life. In the end, even the prud'hommes were content when they perceived that Citizen Jacquard's looms produced far more work, and employed even more men, than ever before. The new loom not only speeded up the process of weaving, and thus made possible higher volume of sales: it also made feasible more complex fabric designs, and gave France a competitive advantage in fabric production for many years to come. By 1812, there were some 11,000 Jacquard looms at work in France. (5)

After the first Napoleonic exposition closed, a special group was formed on November 1, 1801, for the purpose of encouraging and supporting French industry. Headed by Minister Chaptal, and including a number of distinguished members of the government, the society awarded prized for important new developments. The idea was to give a prize to an invention as soon as it was perfected, so as not to have to wait until the next exposition, which might be months or even years distant, for the product to become known and used by other industrialists. Shareholders pooled their money to award four prizes totaling 3,600 francs. Napoleon was a shareholder himself, as was Chaptal. The society outlasted both Consulate and Empire; by the mid-1830s, the prizes were worth in excess of 200,000 francs.

At the same time the government set up two substantial awards or 40,000 francs and 20,000 francs for machines that improved the spinning, combing, and carding of wool. The French thus followed up, with vigor and determination, the tremendous impetus given to their textile industry by Jacquard's loom.

In France, the governmental support of science had, from the time of Louis XIV, been the exclusive domain of gentlemen thinkers. In the opening decades of the nineteenth century, the government, following up on the lessons of the industrial expositions, began a concerted policy of fostering useful inventions. The English followed suit in the 1820s with a series of mechanics institutes, which were designed both to give inventors a place to show their work and to interest the working-class public in the creation of new inventions.


The second national exposition had fulfilled the dreams of all its promoters and publicists. Such events could indeed draw forth from the French nation the best fruits of their national genius, and it became the clear duty of the government to foster and encourage such useful inventiveness in the future. In its final report, the jury proclaimed, with justifiable pride:

This solemn and memorable exposition should calm all the worries about the future of our commerce. The exposition should furthermore silence those who find joy in proclaiming the decline of French industry. (6)





"a rise in reputation and orders from customers"


Exactly one year after the opening of the first Napoleonic exposition, the courtyard of the Louvre once again sprouted booths and porticoes as the third French exposition des produits françaises took place from the 18th until the 24th of September. The intervening year had been good for the Empire and its extraordinary First Consul. Napoleon had effected a dramatic restoration of the Catholic Religion in 1802. The Concordat made France once again a citadel of the Faith, and the bells of Notre Dame rang out for the first time in many years. On March 25, 1802, the Treaty of Amiens marked the cessation of hostilities between England, Spain, Holland and France. Travelers began to pour into Paris to see for themselves what the new Emperor had wrought. Three months later, a treaty with Turkey freed French troops from the necessity of carrying on war far from the homeland. And, as a final stroke of good fortune – backed by military power, of course – Piedmont was restored to France on Sept. 11, 1802. Concurrently with the exposition, a display of "captured" Italian art – paintings and sculptures looted under orders from Napoleon himself – was proudly exhibited in Paris.

In almost all other respects, the 1802 exposition was a repeat performance of the 1801 affair, except that the third exposition was more than twice as large. 540 exhibitors displayed their products in front of the Louvre. And, once again, the annual salon of fine arts was staged inside the Louvre, in another attempt to associate the prestige of the beaux arts with the arts utiles. Napoleon visited the exposition once again, and purchased three paintings from the salon. There is no record, however, of his having purchased anything from the industrial section.

Though the influence of the First Consul was enough to force the fine artists to hold their salon in conjunction with the exposition, no arts of persuasion could force them to exhibit as a part of the exposition. There was indeed a "beaux arts" section within the exposition itself. But no painters or sculptors showed their work there. There were vases, articles of furniture, tapestries, and engravings to be seen in the fine arts section. It is symbolic of the second-class status of these arts in the opening years of the nineteenth century that their practitioners were eager to see their work exhibited in an industrial exhibition under the lofty heading of beaux arts.

The Piranesi brothers, who had earned a silver medal at the previous exposition, once again displayed their imaginative renderings of classical antiquities. Their firm also displayed "imitations of antique monuments and precious marbles," as well as an alabaster vase executed in the "Oriental" manner. Such works of "fine art" would never have been admitted into the higher-toned official exhibitions of painting and sculpture. Engravings, imitation exoticism – such work, derivative in both form and content, was fabricated for popular consumption.

Viewed in another light, however, the exposition "beaux arts" section of the industrial exposition appears far more democratic and less hidebound by status and official recognition than its counterpart in the salon. Visitors could see a far wider range of products in the exposition fine arts room than they could in the chambers of the official salon. Makers of artificial flowers were welcomed along with engravers and fabricators of braided furniture trimmings. Here was art with few limitations.

The beaux arts section was also the scene of another revolutionary event. Breaking all precedents, the jury awarded a gold medal to a woman, one Madame Joubert. Her twenty-three studies of the Gallery of Florence, issued in conjunction with the engraver Masquelier, won the jury's praise as "the most perfect works of their kind."(7)  Not until Rosa Bonheur's victories in the salons of the 1840s would a woman artist win a comparable prize in the world of the fine arts.

Even more radical than the awarding of a gold medal to a woman engraver was the display of products shown in section 15, which featured works from "work houses and studios of charity." Here visitors could see cloth woven entirely by blind people. An adjacent exhibit showed cottonwork by a workhouse of Liège, which was so zealous in supplying such meaningful labor to the poor that "begging had disappeared where it had previously been so common."(8) A prison exhibit showed products made by inmates utilizing by the Arkwright spinning-frame. Exposition officials could indeed boast that "the morale of the population involved in these labors had significantly improved."(9)

By allowing these works to be exhibited, Chaptal was answering a challenge dear to the revolutionary leaders and to the First Consul himself. France had thrown down the blooded aristocracy. But could they show that they had raised the lowest classes of society from their misery? Could the government take over the function of institutional charity so long exercised by the Church? The displays of section 15 were the explicit answer to these questions. Even the most unfortunate and outcast member of society – the poor, the blind, the criminal – could be made happier and even productive by contributing their efforts to the Republic. This was an undertaking far more universal than any previously revolution had undertaken: not just to raise one faction or another to power, but to include all, even the most desitute, depraved, or hopeless members of society, into its ranks.

In every phase of the exposition, Chaptal and his fellow jurors were directing their attention to the products and people of France. But, for the first time, foreign visitors were welcomed in Paris; and even the archrival British were allowed to come and inspect what the regicides had achieved. The 1802 event is the first in which foreign visitors are a significant presence at a national exposition. According to the memoirs of his private secretary Bourienne, Napoleon "was, above all, delighted with the admiration the exhibition excited among the numerous foreigners who resorted to Paris during the peace."(10) Russians and English were especially numerous– a gratifying spectacle for Napoleon, who now had the opportunity of showing the British to their faces the quality and variety of French industry.

The 1802 exposition marks the first serious British attention to the French expositions – an interest which would culminate half a century later in the English desire to go their rivals one better by hosting an international exposition. The depth of British interest is revealed by their choice of Charles Fox, one of the most powerful statesmen of the day, to visit Paris and inspect the goods on display at the exposition. Fox came prepared to dislike what he saw. He had no love for Napoleon, and would have been delighted to report back that revolution and tyranny had left France too weak for industrial combat.

Minister Chaptal personally guided Fox through the exposition grounds. Against his will, Fox was impressed. Products of the Jacquard loom were beginning to appear, and their quality was surprising. "The great novelty," said a later observer, "was the imitation of Cashmere shawls."(11) The British controlled the source of these fine garments, which had appeared in France one a few years before.(12) It must have been alarming for Fox to see the excellence of these imitation Cashmeres; but he must have smiled to see them printed with pseudo-Chinese patterns. Evidently the French manufacturers innocently believed that the Vale of Cashmere was part of China.

In spite of his overall high impressions, Fox voiced one serious complaint about what he saw in the exposition. The English statesman commented to Chaptal on the absence of articles of common use, as compared with what he would have found in England. Chaptal was struck with the justice remark; but he eventually got a cutler and a watchmaker to produce, from the back of the stalls, goods which Fox inspected closely. So surprised was he at their low price and good quality, that he purchased several specimens (including six silver watches), acknowledging that he had a very different opinion of French industries from what he had expressed before.(13)

Pocket watch mechanism, from Ferdinand Berthoud's  Histoire de la measure du temps par les horloges  (volume2), 1802

Pocket watch mechanism, from Ferdinand Berthoud's Histoire de la measure du temps par les horloges (volume2), 1802

At the conclusion of the exposition, the 15-member jury – all selected by Chaptal as Minister of the Interior, and most of them members of the newly-formed société d'encouragement pour l'industrie nationale – gave out 240 awards, including 26 gold medals.(14)The awards reflected well on French industry and enterprise, and the spirit of the French nation as a whole. But Chaptal shrewdly pointed out that winners reaped a good measure of personal benefit from the exposition as well: "There is not an artist," Chaptal wrote in his report, "having obtained a medal or an honorable mention, who has not seen a rise in his reputation and orders from customers."(15)




"The same honors as victories"


At the close of the 1802 exposition, the First Consul invited all 26 gold medal winners to dinner. There, amidst protestations of mutual admiration and good cuisine, Napoleon indicated that he would call for another national exposition in the near future. But momentous events intervened. On December 2, 1804, Napoleon was crowned – or, more precisely, crowned himself – Emperor of the French. Exactly one year later, he achieved one of his most brilliant military victories at Austerlitz; and, soon after that, the victory at Jena. As a consequence, it was four years until Napoleon decreed that an exposition des produits de l'industrie française would be held from September 25 until October 19 on the field of the Champ de Mars.

The change of site for the exposition is significant. The first exposition had been held in the Champ de Mars . The next two were held in the courtyard of the Louvre, for reasons of prestige and, perhaps, safety from theft. But the exposition of 1806 was conceived on a scale much too vast to be crowded into the confinements of the Louvre courtyard. Some 1,422 exhibitors set up displays in 1806 – more than twice the number of the 1802 exposition. One hundred four of the départements of France were represented, as was the Alsatian town of Mulhouse (Mülhausen), which had been "restored" to France in 1798. Belgium had likewise been "reunited" forcibly with the French empire. Belgian products made their first appearance at the French national exposition – arguably making the exposition des produits de l'industrie française the first industrial exposition with foreign representation.

The 1806 exposition marks one of the earliest expressions of public awareness that France's commercial network aimed to include the whole globe. The inclusion of conquered European nations into the French exposition is one such manifestation. Another can be seen in the Notices sur les objets envoyés à l'expositon des produits de l'industrie française. Unlike the official catalogue, which treated products by the nature of the material, this treatise reviewed the products by their place of origin – specifically, by the national departments of France. Each department was scrutinized as to the kinds of contribution it was making to the national good. Some departments were of purely local, agricultural importance. Others, though, such as the département de l'Aude, were seen to have a potentially wider range. Carcasonne, Limoux, and Chalabre in particular were seen as manufacturing for both internal and external trade. "Carcasonne has exported many of its products to the Levant, to Africa for the black slave trade, to America and as far as India."(16) What is significant in the Notices is the sense of a central authority surveying the entirety of national manufacturing, assessing the production of the parts in relation to their context in France, and France's context in the world. It is the emergence of global economic thought, not in terms of occupation or conquest, but in terms of markets and outlets for French manufactures.

The Champ de Mars was traditionally the parade ground for French military exercises. Its proximity to the military academy and the numerous military parades made the Champ de Mars, in the hearts of Parisians, a place to celebrate the glories of war. By 1806, Napoleon, in control of the continental situation, had his eyes on the ancient enemy England. When the semi-official newspaper Le Moniteur announced and listed the 610 awards distributed at the 1806 exposition in its October 20 issue, it listed them side by side with an account of the victories of the Grand Armée. This practice, according to Maurice Guerrini, "accorded with the Emperor's wish that economic progress, which he regarded in the same light as trophies of war, should be announced at the same time and given the same honors as victories."(17)

The Moniteur article brings to the public foreground an issue that previously been only occasionally alluded to in the official reports: that industrial strength and military victory went hand in hand. Neufchâteau had sounded the first battle cry against the English in his report on the 1798 exposition. But the Moniteur extends Neufchâteau's association of army and industry to a higher level. Now it is all Europe that competes with France, and industry must do its part to achieve victory.

This symbolic linking of industry and army signaled a momentous change in status for industrialists large and small. A hundred, twenty, even ten years before, they had simply been men of business trying to make a living by making and selling. But now: on the one hand, apologists were linking their efforts with the lofty arts, doing their part to raise public perception of beauty; on the other, journalists, with the encouragement of the Emperor, were dignifying their efforts by classifying industrial innovation and production with the victories of war. After centuries of neglect and derision by aristocrats and intellectuals, the third estate was coming into its own.

Jacques Bertaux, a view of the exposition grounds

Jacques Bertaux, a view of the exposition grounds

The twenty-one members of the jury for the 1806 exposition were some of the most illustrious men in France, and included the President of the national Senate, the distinguished scientist Gay Lussac, and the mathematician Gaspard Monge (who was elected president of the exposition jury by the other members). But in spite of the distinguished jury and the official endorsement by Napoleon, the leaders of the 1806 exposition still looked to the production of textiles as the foundation of French industrial strength. Chemistry was important only insofar as it aided the processes of dying and refining textiles. Metallurgy, which would loom so large in later expositions, was honored; but all the products of French forges received not half so much praise as the Lyonese silks, which, according to a later account by an English writer, "have never been surpassed in texture, color, or design."(18) The devilish machine of Jacquard, once so maligned as a threat to the livelihood of French weavers, was now lifting France to world-domination in the empire of textiles.

In addition to improvements in textiles, the exposition also featured some innovations in the printing and manufacture of wallpaper:

"Savages of the Pacific" woodblock-printed wallpaper

Designed by Jean-Gabriel Charvet, manufactured by Joseph Dufour

Designed by Jean-Gabriel Charvet, manufactured by Joseph Dufour


The exposition committee greatly expanded the classification system for the products submitted for display. The 1802 exposition had divided all entries into 15 categories; the 1806 exposition, into 35, with numerous subheadings under most categories. Perhaps the most significant new entry was a section devoted entirely to the "fabrication of armaments." The firm of Klingentall earned a coveted gold medal for the high quality of their edged weapons. The Klingentall firm "supplied all the weapons in this genre to the French army," and so merited this "distinction of the first order." (19)

Perhaps taking their cue from Fox's visit in 1802, French watchmakers exhibited in great numbers, and with great ingenuity, at the 1806 exposition. There were watches whose mechanisms required no oil; a device called "the parachute," which protected the mechanism of watches from damage when dropped; watches guaranteed to keep honest time whether suspended in either a horizontal or vertical position; watches that cost 24 francs exhibited next to others costing 1,200; watches whose regular movement had been set by astronomical observations; watches divided into 13 parts, each telling the time in different cities; watches that told the exact time of the rising and the setting of the sun. The 1806 exposition offered a rich testimony to France's virtuoso measurement of time.

Jean Martin, astronomical pocket watch, 1806

Jean Martin, astronomical pocket watch, 1806

One of the most astonishing time pieces was this tribute to the coronation of Napoleon and Josephine. In spite of the avowed purpose to advance those industrial processes that contributed to the general good, artisans could not forget their tradition of devising wonderful trinkets for the ruling classes. The piece was presented to Emperor Napoleon by its maker, Louis Moinet, in 1806, but it may or may not have been included in the exposition.

"Napoleon's timepiece in the shape of an amphora (1806), equipped with an eight-day movement, it displays the hours, minutes and date. It has a mechanism displaying the moon phases inside the day hand, by means of a tiny ivory ball. Napoleon and Josephine are crowned Emperor and Empress as soon as the music box is activated. To achieve this, an ingenious mechanism physically places the imperial crown on their heads. Bronzier Pierre-Phillipe Thomire, movement Louis Moinet." -- Wikiwand  After many adventures, the clock was displayed at the universal exposition in Paris, 1900

"Napoleon's timepiece in the shape of an amphora (1806), equipped with an eight-day movement, it displays the hours, minutes and date. It has a mechanism displaying the moon phases inside the day hand, by means of a tiny ivory ball. Napoleon and Josephine are crowned Emperor and Empress as soon as the music box is activated. To achieve this, an ingenious mechanism physically places the imperial crown on their heads. Bronzier Pierre-Phillipe Thomire, movement Louis Moinet." -- Wikiwand

After many adventures, the clock was displayed at the universal exposition in Paris, 1900

(Click here for a short video about the history and construction of this clock)


After the conclusion of the exposition, there was talk of opening another exposition in 1809. But the continental blockade and other events turned the energies of Napoleon and France energies to other matters. The impetus that the expositions gave to French industry would survive and prosper; but it would be thirteen years until the fourth national exposition would be held in Paris.



1 The first public solicitation for entries in the 1798 exposition called for "products which could be offered that were comparable to those of British industry. " At the exposition's close, Neufchâteau declared that the exposition "has been a campaign disastrous to the interests of English industry. Our manufactures are arsenals most fatal to the power of the British." See especially Exposition publique des produits de l'industrie Française. Catalogue des produits industrielles (Paris, An VII) and Recueil des lettres circulaires, instructions, programmes, discours et autres actes publiques, émanés du citoyen François de Neufchâteau, pendant ses deux exercises du Ministère de l'Interieur (Paris, 1798-1800).

2 Quoted in Bouin and Chanut, Histoire Française des Foires et des Expositions Universelles (Paris, 1980), page 26

3 "Artiste : Name given to workers who excel in such mechanical arts as require intelligence

Artisan: Name given to workers who practice the mechanical arts requiring the least intelligence. We say of a good shoemaker that he is a good artisan; of a clever watchmaker, that he is an outstanding artist." – Encyclopedie, "Artiste" and "Artisan." Note the especially respectful attention given to watchmakers in the catalogues of the three Napoleonic expositions. For a full exposition of the connotations of these terms, see William H. Sewell, Work and Revolution in France: the Language of Labor from the Old Regime to 1848 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press), especially pages 22 ff.

4 Seconde Exposition publique des produits de l'industrie française : Procès-Verbal (Paris, 1801), page 38

5 For a detailed description of the principles of the Jacquard loom, and an assessment of his invention in the history of weaving, see Robert Bruce Blum, "The Metamorphosis of the Ancient Tapisser's Art," in The Loom Has a Brain (Philadelphia: no publisher listed, 1970)

6 Seconde Exposition publique des produits de l'industrie française : Procès-Verbal (Paris, 1801), page 36

7 Exposition Publique des produits de l'industrie française An 10. Procès Verbal... Imprimé Par ordre du Citoyen CHAPTAL, Ministre de l'interieur (Paris, An XI), page 65

8 ibid. page 70

9 ibid., page 71. Chaptal does not comment on the fact that it was a British invention – the Arkwright spinning-frame – that allowed the French such a moral victory.

10 Memoirs of Napoleon Bonaparte by Louis Antoine Fauvelet de Bourienne, his Private Secretary, edited by R. W. Phipps (New York, 1891), Volume II, page 109

11 Anonymous writer in The Art Union, 1844, page 226

12 According to Bourienne, the first Cashmere shawl in France was presented by Louis Bonaparte to Madame Bourienne in 1799. One can trace, in every industrial exposition from the second 1802 until the sixth in 1827, a concerted effort to import the Cashmere goats, then to improve the process of weaving the material , and finally to lower the cost – and beat the prices of imported Cashmeres from British India – by refining the mechanized weaving techniques of French looms. See especially L. Costaz, Rapport du jury central sur les produits de l'industrie française, Chapitre II, "Duvet de Cachemire, " p. 36 ff. (Paris, 1819) , and Adolphe Blanqui, Histoire de l'exposition des produits de l'industrie française en 1827, Chapitre IV, "Aventures des châles de cachemire" and "Des Cachemires français," p. 100 ff. (Paris, 1827)

13 De l'Industrie Française, Paris, 1819, Volume II, page 92 ff.

14 This number of prizes looms even larger when we consider that winners of medals at previous expositions were not eligible to win a prize of the same or lower order in the 1802 exposition.

15 Exposition Publique des produits de l'industrie française An 10. Procès Verbal... Imprimé Par ordre du Citoyen CHAPTAL, Ministre de l'interieur (Paris, An XI), page 10

16 Notices sur les objets envoyés à l'expositon des produits de l'industrie française (Paris, 1806), page 39

17 Maurice Guerrini, Napoleon and Paris, translated by Margery Weiner (New York, 1970), page 160

18 Anonymous writer in The Art Union, 1844, page 226

19 Rapport du jury sur les produits de l'industrie française, présenté à S.E.M. de Champagny, Ministre de l'Interieur (Paris, 1806), page129


Gothic drop flourish.jpg





Opening Date: September 19

Closing Date: September 25

Site: Courtyard of the Louvre

Exhibitors: 220

Top Official: Jean Chaptal


Opening Date: September 18

Closing Date: September 24

Site: Courtyard of the Louvre

Exhibitors: 540

Top Official: Jean Chaptal



Opening Date: September 25

Closing Date: October 19

Site: Esplanade des Invalides

Exhibitors: 1422

Top Official: M. de Champagny





Seconde Exposition publique des produits de l'industrie française : Procès-Verbal (Paris, 1801)


Catalogue des productions qui seront exposées dans la grande Cour du Louvre, pendent les cinq jours complèmentaires de l’an 10. (Paris, An X {1802})

Exposition Publique des produits de l'industrie française An 10. Procès Verbal... Imprimé Par ordre du Citoyen CHAPTAL, Ministre de l'interieur (Paris, An XI {1802})


Exposition des produits de l’industrie française, 1806. Catalogue des produits. (Paris, 1806)

Exposition de 1806. Rapport du jury sur les produits de l’industrie française, presenté à S.E.M. de Champagny. (Paris, 1806)

Notices sur les objets envoyés à l'expositon des produits de l'industrie française (Paris, 1806)

Hafter, Daryl M. "The Business of Invention in the Paris Industrial Exposition of 1806," in Business History Today, Autumn, 1984, pages 317-335