Jeanne-Françoise Julie Adélaïde Bernard, known after her marriage as Juliette Récamier, was born on December 4, 1777—240 years ago yesterday. Had she lived during modern…View More Madame Récamier and the Art of Reclining
Tag: Empire Style
I go on and on about the over-the-top fabulousness of the Bourbon kings where design is concerned but I’m equally fond of Empire Style.
In her biography Napoléon & Joséphine: An Improbable Marriage, Evangeline Bruce writes, “From the start, General Bonaparte was impressed and intimidated by the air of quiet elegance of Joséphine’s house.” The Empire Style that wfould set the decorative tone for their reign was initially born of necessity for the future Empress. The author explains that the home’s feeling of elegance was pastiche and illusion, as Joséphine—still aiming to claw her way to the top of the nouveau riche—was barely keeping it together financially.
The true gentry of the day, whose wealth was still somewhat intact, opted to hide their means during revolutionary times, unlike Madame de Beauharnais and other upstarts like her. “‘No one bearing a famous name wished to receive in 1795,’ claimed one newly returned exile,” Bruce writes. “But for a member of the new society like Joséphine, the necessity as well as the means to maintain influential connections was all-important. Her house must reflect something more contemporary; her decoration and her small amount of furniture were all the latest neoclassical style.” I truly enjoy delving into history and finding answers beyond the obvious as to why certain styles came into being and Empire Style has always been one of my favorites.
The beginning of one of Napoléon Bonaparte’s earliest letters to Joséphine de Beauharnais simply oozes sensuality: “Seven in the morning. I awaken full of you…the…View More Transitory Spaces
Narratives That Illuminate Design
Narratives That Illuminate Design If you believe that design-centric coffee table books contain nothing more than visual surveys of portfolios, I am out to change…View More Narratives That Illuminate Design
One Special Summer with Jackie O
Hegel’s caveat “history teaches us nothing” may be relevant in cultural and philosophical realities but in the design world the statement is far from succinct.…View More One Special Summer with Jackie O
Rococo Style in Italy
If I told you the most surprising thing I found in Parma, Italy, was France, would you think I’d lost my mind? I’m not speaking…View More Rococo Style in Italy
A Jet Set Fantasy
When the Bernhardt Jet Set buffet flowed through the raucous column of my Tweetdeck during the #HPMkt Twitter chat on the evening of March 12th, I chased…View More A Jet Set Fantasy