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Save Le Vizir, Napoleon's last horse !

The restoration of Le Vizir at the Army Museum in Paris

About the project

In 1802, Selim III, the 28th Sultan of the Ottoman Empire, presented Napoleon I with a magnificent greyishwhite coat Arabian stallion named « Le Vizir » as a token of friendship. Legend has it that the Sultan’s last words to his stallion were “Go, my dear Vizir. Go for Mahomet, go for your Sultan and become Napoleon’s most famous horse”. The most amazing thing is that the young stallion did !

During its lifetime, Le Vizir served Napoleon I at the battles of Iena and Eylau and accompanied the deposed Emperor into exile on the island of Elba. Several renowned painters of the French First Empire represented Le Vizir ridden by Napoleon who particularly favoured the stallion. Following thirteen years of military service, Le Vizir’s career could have ended like so many over horses after leaving the Army, and its name slowly erased from popular memory.

However, Le Vizir became part of the Napoleonic Legend by a set of exceptional circumstances worthy of a mystery novel. Following its death, Le Vizir was preserved in taxidermy. In accordance to political events its remains were transported from France to Great-Britain before entering the collections of the musée de l’Armée. Le Vizir is currently on display in the permanent exhibition area of the Département Moderne, within a few meters from its master Napoleon I.

Although Le Vizir is an object of admiration for the 1.5 million annual visitors of the museum, it also gives rise to some doubt and ongoing controversy just like its former master. Once again, it became the hero of the book Le Vizir. Le plus illustre cheval de Napoléon written by Philippe Thomas-Derevoge, in 2006. The restoration works are scheduled to start in June 2016. 

What are the funds for?

Yveline Huguet and Jack Thiney, both specialized in the restoration in organic material and taxidermy, will be charged with the restoration treatments and X-rays required for filling the cracks and tears, dust removal, rehydration and helping restore skin colour in order to bring back Napoleon’s most famous horse to its magnificent former glory. Once the restoration over, Le Vizir will be presented in a special microclimate case used for the preservation of cultural heritage in order to stop any degradation process. 

About the project owner

The Army Museum was created in 1905 when the Artillery Museum merged with the Army History Museum. The Army History Museum was founded in 1896 by a company called La Sabretache. Its Chairman, the painter Edouard Detaille, wanted to use his own collections to put together a national military museum based on b.

It contains some of the world's most prestigious collections, including old weapons and armour (the 3rd biggest in the world), small artillery models (unique in the world) and a unique set of 19th-century items relating to Napoleon I and the marshals of the Empire in particular.

The Army Museum is one of the biggest museums of military art and history in the world. Its location within a military monument like the Hôtel National des Invalides gives it exceptional character. There are few military museums that offer such a large collection of works and cover such a wide range of historical eras.