The Emperor, the Collector and the Library:
the Dawson Napoleonic Collection at The Morrab Library

2021 marks the 200th anniversary of the death of Napoleon Bonaparte (15 August 1769 – 5 May 1821). The Morrab Library is fortunate to hold an extraordinary collection relating to the iconic French Emperor and military leader. Described as a ‘series of portraits, battle-pieces, views, plans, maps etc., illustrative of the life of the First Napoleon and his contemporaries’, the series of over 3,000 individual items is arranged and mounted in 12 large volumes.

Accumulated and prepared by Thomas Dawson (1811-1889), each volume bears his coat of arms and a modified quote from Shakespeare’s Hamlet – “Eyes shall not look upon his like again”.

The collection provides a fascinating insight into Napoleon‘s rise and fall, the French Revolution, the struggle with Britain and the allies, and the Restoration of the Monarchy in France, and this exhibition showcases just a few highlights from it.

Click to enlarge the images below and read their captions.