Focus on the Imperial style

The admiration for Greco-Roman and Egyptian antiquity led to the triumph of a new decorative repertoire: sphinxes, griffins, gladii swords, laurel wreaths, helmets, winged victories - elements often characteristic of a grand, militaristic style. The architects Percier and Fontaine dreamed up most of the details of interior decoration projects under the Empire. Their drawings were made available to renowned painters, sculptors, goldsmiths, cabinet makers and bronzesmiths.

The Continental Blockade against England from 1811 impeded the importation of exotic wood. These were then replaced by light woods, which Napoleon described as "indigenous".


Jacob-Frères (1796-1803)
Mahogany, gilded bronze, turquoise blue marble
H. 83 ; L. 50 ; Pr. 40,5 cm
T 267
© Château de Versailles (dist. RMN-Grand Palais) / Christophe Fouin

The somno, which in Latin means "I sleep", is a bedside table in the shape of an antique pedestal, with a door at the back concealing a shelf intended to hold a chamber pot. Napoleon ordered one for all his residences.



Jacob-Desmalter (from 1803)
Carved and gilded wood, silk, gold brocade
H. 97 ; L. 65 ; Pr. 61 cm
V 5347
© Château de Versailles (dist. RMN-Grand Palais) / Christophe Fouin

This armchair model with its square back and its sword sheath front legs is characteristic of the seats of the Imperial period. The green silk was the colour traditionally used in the pieces made for the Emperor.


Jacob-Desmalter (from 1803)
Painted wood, silk
pommier daybed : H. 104 ; L. 88 ; Pr. 73 cm
foot stool : H. 40 ; L. 32 ; Pr. 17 cm
screen : H. 101,5 ; L. 61 cm
T 389 C (pommier) ; T 392 C (pommier daybed) ; T 393 C (screen)
© Château de Versailles (dist. RMN-Grand Palais) / Christophe Fouin

All the seats delivered in 1810 for this luncheon room were furnished by the upholsterer Darrac, in an "inexpensive" pale blue damask; less expensive, because it was made of cotton rather than silk thread.

The pommier daybed, with its asymmetrical back, was placed in front of a fireplace so you could warm your feet by placing your legs over the shorter side.

The screen protected from excessive heat generated by the fire in the fireplace. It has a sliding frame to adjust the heat.

Appearing in the second half of the eighteenth century, the foot stool was placed in front of an armchair or a sofa.


Around 1805
chiselled, patinated and gilded bronze
H. 92,5 ; L. 26,5 ; Pr. 31 cm
GML 9741.1-2
National Furniture Depot, 2007
© Château de Versailles (dist. RMN-Grand Palais) / Christophe Fouin

Percier and Fontaine produced drawings for similar pieces intended to decorate a mantelpiece or the top of a console table. The bouquet of lights is supported by two figures of women holding palms, symbolising victory.