The Empire style was encouraged by Napoleon Bonaparte’s desire for a propagandistic style inspired by the glorious ancient Greek and Roman Empires. After his Egyptian Campaign, it was also strongly influenced by the grandeur of ancient Egypt.
The French architects Percier and Fontaine, were together the creators of the French Empire style. They became leading furniture designers in the 1790s where they received many commissions from Napoleon Bonaparte. Symbols and motifs of the Empire style included golden eagle, palm leaves, laurel wreath, sphinxes, swan, bow and arrows, lyre… together with the initials of the Emperor and Empress – N for Napoleon and J for Josephine. Mahogany-veneered furniture and chairs with gilt-bronze mounts reflected the majestic style of the Empire. Jacob Desmalter was the principal supplier of furniture to the Emperor Napoleon for whom he supplied numerous pieces for the Chateau de Malmaison, the Tuileries Palace and other imperial residences. The Empire style achieved great popularity and was adopted in courts throughout Europe, especially in Russia. In England it was known as the Regency style. Chateau de Malmaison was bought in 1799 by Josephine de Beauharnais for herself and her husband General Napoleon Bonaparte, fighting the Egyptian Campaign. She made major improvements including the building of a heated orangerie and the creation of a famous rose garden. Birds and animals of all sorts began to enrich the garden including kangaroos, zebras, ostriches, llamas… allowed to roam free among the grounds. Chateau de Malmaison is a beautiful and elegant country house filled with Empire period furniture, sculpture and paintings.