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A term which, strictly speaking, describes the decorative and architectural style that developed in France during Napoleon's reign as emperor (1804–14), though it is often extended to cover the period c.1750–c.1840 and is thereby loosely synonymous with French Neoclassicism. The artistic vocabulary of the Empire style had been set down in Percier and Fontaine's Recueil de décorations intérieures comprenant tout ce qui a rapport à l'ameublement (1801) which basically established a repertoire of antique forms that would be incorporated into furniture, ceramics, metalwork, textiles, and wallpaper. This new and powerfully assertive decorative language was seen, for example, at Napoleon's château at Malmaison or in Ingres's grandiose portrait of Napoleon on the Imperial Throne 1806 (Musée de l'Armée, Paris). Essentially the Roman imperial style, as it was then perceived, was appropriated and adapted by the artists and architects working for Napoleon to promote the hegemony of his regime. Its motifs included imperial eagles, swans, cornucopias, winged torches, and fasces of arms. It was saved from a Cecil B. de Mille-like vulgarity by the superb quality of its practitioners, men such as Jacob-Desmalter, Molitor, Thomire, Odiot, and Biennais.

http://www.musees-nationaux-napoleoniens.org/en/homes/home_id24833_u1l2.htm Malmaison website.

Subjects: Art.

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