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Symbols of Power: Napoleon and the Art of the Empire Style, 1800-1815

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Symbols of Power: Napoleon and the Art of the Empire Style, 1800-1815

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    Available in PDF Format | Symbols of Power: Napoleon and the Art of the Empire Style, 1800-1815.pdf | English
    Odile Nouvel(Author)
When Napoleon I first came to power in 1799 as First Consul of France, he modeled his new regime on the Roman Republic. When he was declared Emperor in 1804, the model changed from the Roman Republic to the Roman Empire. As part of this new government, Napoleon sponsored a program of arts that reflected his view of France as the New Rome. No ruler in the history of the world has been more aware of the capacity of symbolism to propagate power. But, despite his titanic military and political prowess, his most long-lasting and influential achievement was in the decorative arts. To glorify his regime, he encouraged French furniture-makers, silversmiths, jewelers and porcelain and textile manufacturers to produce gorgeous objects decorated with a wealth of antique motifs such as columns, arches, laurel wreathes, acanthus leaves, eagles and Egyptian hieroglyphs. Furniture, vases, porcelains and even silverware were produced in antique styles intended to project an aura of imperial majesty, featuring a rare combination of austere forms and opulent materials. This is the manner that came to be known as the Empire Style. This is a remarkable book, which accompanies a traveling exhibition organized by the Musee des Art Decoratifs in Paris, and is comprehensive compendium of the Empire Style in all its glory. Lavishly illustrated with superb photographs, many taken expressly for this book, it will be a landmark in the library of the history of the decorative arts and an essential reference for lovers of wonderful objects everywhere.

Odile Nouvel, Curator of Nineteenth-Century Art at the Musee des Arts Decoratifs, Paris, will be guest curator of the project.

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Book details

  • PDF | 352 pages
  • Odile Nouvel(Author)
  • Harry N. Abrams, Inc.; 01 edition (1 Jun. 2007)
  • English
  • 4
  • History

Review Text

  • By Captain Chaos (Semper Vigilans) on 8 May 2012

    First, or should that be premiere? This is not the usual type of book but a catalogue of an exhibition, and what an exhibition it must have been. Reading the learned text and feasting one's eyes on the magnificent photographs of these most sumptuous artefacts it is easy to understand the devotion and inspiration which millions of Frenchmen, nay, Europeans must have felt for the diminutive dynamo that was Napoleon Bonaparte. In the final analysis, many were prepared to die more for their Emperor than their country, however, that is the realm of the historian rather than me the dilettante. That Napoleon inspired men, and women, of genius is undeniable, the great maestro Ludwig van Beethoven was himself so inspired, at least initially, that he dedicated his Piano Concerto number 4, known as the 'Emperor', to the great man. Even in this country there were many 'Bonapartists' especially among the wealthy and also among artists. The level of inspiration may be gauged by perusing the assemblage of magnificence within these pages. For such an outpouring of excellence to have been dedicated to the cause of one man he must surely have been doing something right at some stage. My personal favourites are: exhibit 143 pp238/9, described rather prosaically as 'Covered Cup',that's rather like describing the Crown Jewels as 'Hats and Earrings', quite simply beautiful. Even more magnificent to my eyes is 8c pp178/9 'Stool in the shape of a pair of Crossed Sabers'(sic). If I could work wood, bronze, and leather to such a sublime standard I'd die a happy, and rich, man. However, these are merely two amongst many and other equally exquisite objects are presented on virtually every page. Vraiment magnifique, exquis, et formidable. It's good too! How I wish we had had the chance to see it here.Empire Style: Authentic DecorThomas Hope: Designer and Patron in Regency London

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