This weekend is the last one for the Napoleon: Revolution to Empire exhibition at the NGV. To celebrate they opened up the gallery for 24 hours straight yesterday, and scheduled some free live music throughout the night and other special activities. Mary and I headed in to check out the exhibition in the evening. The show was quite interesting and covers French culture, art and life from the 1770s through to the 1820s. I hadn't realized the connection both Louis XVI and Napoleon and his first wife Josephine had to Australia. The French explored Australia around the same time the British did, and Josephine had a wide collection of native flora and fauna at her Malmaison estate. Can you imagine kangaroos and black swans in France in the early 1800s?
The focus of the exhibition though was the rise of Napoleon through the ranks of the military to becoming Emperor of France for ten years, and then ultimately his exile to the island of Saint Helena until his death in 1821. I liked seeing the various portraits of Napoleon throughout the years. We were also fortunate enough to hear three different short pop up talks by experts on different pieces of art in the exhibition, which provided some great insights into the era and Napoleon's life.
Fortunately Mary and I timed our visit to the exhibition perfectly and finished up just in time to catch Henry Wagons play his hour long set. We met up with Tash, her sister Jessie and boyfriend Heath and grabbed a table near the stage. Henry was in fine form and made some very funny Napoleon references both in between and during songs throughout his set. He started out playing solo and then gradually invited some members of Wagons and The Nymphs to join him on stage. We were treated to a mix of Wagons songs and ones from his new duets album Expecting Company?. This show was a bit of a dry run for Henry's upcoming tour and even though we were his guinea pigs I thought he did a great job and sounded lovely. After the show Mary and I left Tash, Jessie and Heath to complete their wait until they could enter the exhibition at midnight. Their tickets may have been cheaper than ours, but with daylight savings starting this morning they probably didn't get out of the NGV until around 3:00 am!