BOOK REVIEW: Empire Style

Empire Style: The Hôtel de Beauharnais in Paris

Written by Jörg Ebeling and Ulrich Leben, Photographed by Francis Hammond

 Flammarion
ISBN: 978-2-08-020272-7
£95

empire-style_cover

It does not come as a surprise to me that over ten years research has been undertaken to bring about this splendid monograph on the Hôtel de Beauharnais.

Built in 1713-15 by the architect Germain Boffrand it was when Josephine Bonaparte bought it for her son Eugène de Beauharnais that the real story of this “hotel particulier” begins. He had the building decorated and renovated at great cost and the results preserved to this day are the remarkable Consulate and Empire interiors which make it such a jewel among Parisian interiors. The costs were so high that his step-father the Emperor Napoleon was angry and took over the use of the building as a place for important visitors.

The wall facing the windows in the Four Seasons Drawing Room boasts unique furnishings of draped mirrors above a sofa flanked by chairs and armchairs. © Francis Hammond, from Empire Style: The Hôtel de Beauharnais in Paris (Flammarion, 2016).

The wall facing the windows in the Four Seasons Drawing Room boasts unique furnishings of draped mirrors above a sofa flanked by chairs and armchairs.
© Francis Hammond, from Empire Style: The Hôtel de Beauharnais in Paris (Flammarion, 2016).

Following Napoleon’s fall the building was bought by the King of Prussia and the building became the Prussian Legation and eventually the German embassy and today it serves as the Ambassador’s residence.

While the history of this building is of great interest and expertly recalled it is the interiors and furnishings that make this such a special book.  As well as a detailed tour of the main rooms there are special essays looking at the decorative paintings, Empire furniture, fabrics and trimmings and at the ideals behind the Empire Style.

The ceremonial bed in the Hôtel de Beauharnais, dated 1804–05, is probably the only one of its kind still in situ. According to legend, the hole in the mirror in the back was made by a stray bullet fired during the uprising of the Commune in 1871. © Francis Hammond, from Empire Style: The Hôtel de Beauharnais in Paris (Flammarion, 2016).

The ceremonial bed in the Hôtel de Beauharnais, dated 1804–05, is probably the only one of its kind still in situ. According to legend, the hole in the mirror in the back was made by a stray bullet fired during the uprising of the Commune in 1871.
© Francis Hammond, from Empire Style: The Hôtel de Beauharnais in Paris (Flammarion, 2016).

This beautifully illustrated book is a great celebration of a historic building and its spectacular interiors. A must for all interested in history and interior decoration.

 

http://editions.flammarion.com/

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