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’.
Carolyn McDowall FRSA has gained considerable experience and business acumen in her professional career. An independent cultural and social historian, Carolyn is an interior designer by trade. She has been involved in the creative sector for over thirty years in Australia; completing interior design projects, creating and producing innovative corporate and not-for profit (social profit) community events. She has over that time continuously conducted independent research , while designing, developing, and producing educational art and design history programs in conjunction with renowned specialist colleagues.
Last week I was invited by my vivacious friend Leah to view a wonderful exhibition at the Art Gallery of NSW entitled “Kamisaka Sekka, dawn of modern Japanese design“. Featured in this harmonious collection was the very gracious Sydney based designer Akira Isogawa. Born in Kyoto, Japan in 1964, Isogawa…