Juliette Recamier and Empire Style

What we know now as the Empire Style began developing in the latter part of the 18th century and climaxed at Napoleon and Josephine’s Chateau Malmaison. It was an extension of neoclassical concerns and at Paris the influence of one woman. Mme Juliette Recamier (1777 – 1849), was paramount. They tell us Juliette  ‘walked like a goddess on the clouds and her voice thrilled the senses’. She dressed in a cloud of diaphanous white mousseline and never wore diamonds, only pearls. She appealed to romantic sensibility wearing crowns of real pansies and cornflowers on her head and posies on her gown. She was married at 15 to banker Jacques Recamier. In 1798 he bought a house for her on the rue deu Mont-Blanc and it was furnished in the Greek Style. Her husband encouraged her to entertain men and women of influence and Juliette insisted on having flowers everywhere, even on the stairs. She would greet invited guests with a charming smile and invite them to see her bedroom. The bed was declared the most beautiful in Paris, raised on a dais against its background of mirrored walls and draped in a froth of transparent gauze, a white vapour falling from the ceiling, surrounded by vases and candelabra, and an artificial rose tree. Her parties where she invited people to see her bedroom became ‘the rage of Paris’.

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