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Aristide Louis, Napoleon Bonaparte, 1841.

Napoleon Bonaparte

French Emperor from 1804 to 1814

As Emperor of France, Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821) strove for the unification of Europe. From 1795 onwards, the Batavian Republic was also part of the French Empire. The French rule ended in 1813.

Jean Pierre Droz and Romain Vincent Jeuffroy, Coronation of Napoleon Bonaparte as Emperor, 1804.

Jean Pierre Droz and Romain Vincent Jeuffroy, Coronation of Napoleon Bonaparte as Emperor, 1804.

In October 1811, Napoleon paid a short visit to Haarlem and Teylers Museum. At that time, the tension between museum director Van Marum and the Directors (board members) was palpable. The Directors had just reduced Van Marum's fee and had also significantly reduced the number of competitions to be held. Van Marum probably tried to make the French authorities enthusiastic about his wishes. His own board consistently failed to respond to this.

The emperor received the local authorities in the Fundatiehuis, which had recently been renovated. The emperor then visited Teylers Museum. To his great disappointment, the Large Electrostatic Generator could not be demonstrated: the humidity level was much too high. But Van Marum had taken this into account and prepared a smaller Electrostatic Generator in another room, so that a demonstration could still be given.

Napoleon and Van Marum got along well with each other. They both wanted Teylers Museum to become an important educational institution. The emperor inquired with chairman Van Zeebergh about the Foundation's assets. This conversation went less smoothly. Van Zeebergh beat around the bush for so long that Napoleon, who was already out of sorts, grabbed him by the ear and forced him to write a note in which the nature and purpose of Teyler's Foundation were precisely explained.

That note was presented at the end of November to Charles Lebrun, the Governor General of the incorporated Republic. On this basis, Van Marum was, to his great satisfaction, directly commissioned to design a plan for a much more social orientation of the museum.

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