Philadelphia was culturally enriched by successive waves of emigres fleeing the French Revolution, the rise to power of Napoleon, the revolt of Toussaint Louverture on Haiti, the collapse of the First Empire, and subsequent political turmoil surrounding the Second Empire. Here they were welcomed by the same urbane and literate community that had founded the Athenĉum in 1814. As a consequence of their association with members such as Peter Stephen Du Ponceau, Nicholas Biddle, Joseph Hopkinson, and Samuel Breck the Athenĉum acquired many artifacts associated with the French emigre community: books and periodicals, naturally, but also paintings, sculpture, furniture, porcelain and silver. Since the 1950s the Athenĉum has also collected furniture by French-trained cabinetmakers working in Philadelphia, particularly Michel Bouvier and Anthony G. Quervelle. Of special interest are the objects associated with the long residence in America of Joseph Bonaparte, elder brother of Napoleon and former King of Spain.

This exhibition of objects from the collections of the Athenĉum associated primarily with Joseph Bonaparte is mounted as a memorial to Joseph N. DuBarry, IV (1916-1993) whose great-great grandfather, Dr. Edmund L. DuBarry (1797-1853), lived at Bordentown, NJ, and was both friend and physician to the former king.

The Bonaparte Connection is a permanent exhibition at the Athenĉum of Philadelphia. For hours and directions, please visit our website at


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