The decor and landscaping of Malmaison by Napoleon (1768-1821) and his wife, Josephine (1763-1814) made it the archetype of the Empire style. Empress Josephine purchased what was a small 18th Century country chateau near Paris in 1799. It was in bad repair, so Napoleon engaged two fashionable Neoclassical architects, Charles Percier and Pierre Fontaine, to refurbish it. Influenced by the recent discoveries of artifacts at Pompeii and Herculaneum, the architects proposed to base their redesign on a Roman style decor reminiscent of the days of Caesar, combined with contemporary military motifs, like tents (an example of which can be seen in the design of the entrance of the house in this print), an idea that appealed to Napoleon.
A fantastically expensive project, the houses and grounds of Malmaison were among the most visited and imitated houses of the time. As artist-in-residence at the Malmaison gardens, the great botanical artist Pierre-Joseph Redoute recorded many of the beautiful ornamental garden flowers of Josephine in three books.
Condition: Generally very good with the usual light toning, wear, soiling, soft creases. Some portions of margins trimmed, replaced in facsimile. Some marginal tears, restored.
“Malmaison.” Georgian Index. August 2001. http://www.geocities.com/ifernwood/Malmaison/Malmaison.html (27 August 2007).