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Napoleon's hat -- well, one of them -- to be part of Muzeo's 'Treasures' exhibition

October 5, 2009 | 10:00 am

Napoleon's Bicorn Hat

Napoleon Bonaparte wore many hats -- and the proof lies in the fact that so many worldwide museums claim to possess one of the emperor's famous chapeaux, including the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (Russian Campaign, 1812), the German Historical Museum (Battle of Waterloo hat) and of course, Napoleon's Tomb at Les Invalides in Paris.

Orange County's Muzeo lays no claim to owning one of Napoleon's hats -- but the museum will display the hat in the photo above in its upcoming "Treasures of Napoleon" exhibition, Oct. 11- Jan. 8.  The museum is closed to the public through Oct. 10 as the exhibition is being installed.

No, this photo is not two hats stacked on top of each other: the emperor's hat (circa 1805), a summer model made of felt, is seen with Napoleon's Legion of Honour Sash, both resting upon a red pillow. The hat was worn by Napoleon during the Battle at Essling in 1809.

Some hat facts provided by the museum: The type of hat Napoleon wore is called the bicorn or bicorne, meaning two horizontal points.The design is a variation on the tricorn, or three-pointed hats popular in the 17th century and worn by American colonists around the time of the American Revolution.

Museum notes say that Napoleon wore his hats with the brim aligned to his shoulders to distinguish himself from other officers on the battlefield. But Culture Monster is only asking: did Napoleon wear his hats sideways because straightening them out would have required removing his hand from the inside of his coat?

-- Diane Haithman

Photo: Napoleon's summer felt bicorn hat, circa 1805. Credit: Pierre-Jean Chalençon

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