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RETOUR DES CENDRES
Very exceptional ticket for the funeral of Emperor Napoleon I. Esplanade des Invalides [15 December 1840]. 1 oblong sheet in-12 on lithographed bristol, stamped at the right angle with an oval dry stamp bearing around the inscription Ministry of the Interior and in the center Public Ceremonies. At the bottom, is inscribed in small characters the address: Lith. Cluis, Boulevard St Denis, 18, Paris. As a shy sign of mourning the text is framed by a double black octagonal net.
The importance of this exceptional piece is characterized first of all by its great rarity. It states the testimony of one of the most important events of the year 1840. It seems appropriate to point out that the funerals of great personalities give rise to invitations and entrance cards. However, despite the fact that we do not know its exact origin, the indication that appears on this ticket "1st stage-left side" allows us to affirm with certainty that it was intended for a political, literary or social figure in Paris. Victor Hugo, spectator from this same stand, describes it with care in his little book Choses Vues; "I show my ticket for the first stage on the left, and I cross the hedge. These platforms are immense scaffoldings which cover, from the quay to the gate of the dome, all the lawns of the Esplanade. There are three on each side. I go up on the platform. The spectacle is not less strange. The women, almost all booted with large slippers and veiled, disappear under piles of furs and coats; the men walk around in extravagant mufflers."
An entrance ticket (Hôtel Royal des Invalides) similar to this one is preserved in the Cognac library, Fonds Albert, Manuscrits, t. XXXII.
On December 15, despite the temperature being close to -10 degrees, a million faithful, including men, women and children, jostled each other along the route that the Emperor's coffin was to take. From the bridge of Neuilly to the Invalides, feelings are mixed when suddenly the sound of the cannon bursts provoking silence. At the same time, the sky, veiled until then, let reappear the victorious sun of Austerlitz. From that day on, the Imperial adventure became a legend.