Napoleon was not only a true lover of art, but an excellent connoisseur. He did more to elevate the arts and sciences in France than all the monarchs together who had preceded him. It was a part of his policy to honor and reward every man of genius, no matter what his origin, and thus to develop the intellect of his country. He foresaw the advantage of making Paris the great centre of art; therefore he did not hesitate to transport from the countries he conquered, the most renowned and valuable works of ancient and modern times. "Paris is Rome; Paris is now the great centre of art," said he to Canova in 1810, when that great sculptor visited Paris at his command, and whom he endeavored to persuade to permanently remain in his service. West, after his return to England from Paris, where he had had several interviews with Bonaparte, expressed his admiration of the man in such warm terms as offended the officials of the government, and caused such opposition, that he deemed it proper to resign the President's chair in the Royal Academy. The truth is, it was not the conqueror, as the English pretended, but his exalted ideas of the arts, and of their value to a country, which captivated West, whose peaceful tenets led him to abhor war and devastation.

Napoleon's enlightened policy is also seen in those stupendous works published by the French government, as the Description de l'Egypte, ou Recueil des Observationes et des Recherches pendant l'Expedition de l'Armée Français, 25 vols. in elephant folio. This work corresponds in grandeur of its proportions to the edifices and monuments which it describes. Everything that zeal in the cause of science, combined with the most extensive knowledge, had been able to collect in a land abounding in monuments of every kind, and in the rarest curiosities, is described and illustrated in this work by a committee of savans appointed for the purpose. It contains more than 900 engravings, and 3000 illustrative sketches. The Musée Français, and the Musée Royal, containing 522 plates, after the gems of the world, are not less grand and magnificent, and far more valuable contributions to art. These will be described in a subsequent page. Such was Napoleon; deprive him of every other glory, his love of art, and what he did for its promotion, and the adornment of his country, would immortalize his name.

Napoleon delighted to spend some of his leisure moments in contemplating the master pieces of art which he had gathered in the Louvre, and that he might go there when he pleased, without parade, he had a private gallery constructed leading to that edifice from the Tuilleries. (See Spooner's Dictionary of Painters, Engravers, Sculptors, and Architects, articles West, David, Denon, Canova, etc., and vol i., page 8, of this work.)