Apartments of the Emperor, Palace of Fontainebleau, Seine-et-Marne, France

Fontainebleau is a key stage in the history of Napoleon, a visit to this monument is a chance to discover the different facets of the Emperor: the statesman, the warlord, the head of the family and the promoter of the arts. The palace in which every king of France since the Middle-Ages had lived was spared during the Revolution, but the furniture was either destroyed or sold. Napoleon had the palace both restored and refurbished, thus making it once again a residence fit for royal guests.

Louis XVI had the wing split in 1786 by adding apartments, thus depriving it of its opening onto Diana’s garden, but had false French windows made to maintain a symmetrical appearance. In 1804 Napoleon decided that he wanted his own private suite of apartments within the palace, separate from the old state apartments. He took over a suite of six rooms which had been created in 1786 for Louis XVI, next to the Gallery of Francis I, and had them redecorated in the Empire style.

Napoleon I brought the Château de Fontainebleau back to life after the Revolution, he had it restored and furnished and made into one of his residences. Almost 600 rooms were transformed to accommodate the court, and the furniture needed for them was either taken out of storage or orders were placed with cabinet-makers such as (Jacob-Desmalter…) and with tapestry-makers such as Baudoin, Legendre, and Decors.

The most significant alteration undertaken in the palace was the transformation, in 1808, of the king’s bedroom into the throne room following drawings by Percier and Fontaine. It is the only French Royal throne room existing today which is complete with its furniture. The “Grand salon” and the Empress’s bedroom were also decorated in Empire style. Napoleon’s suite was entirely remodelled again in 1804. The most spectacular room remains the Emperor’s bedroom which later on became the bedroom of all the sovereigns until 1870.

The small bedroom, the private room also known as the “Abdication room”, the “passage to the bath-house” and the aides-de-camp’s common room complete this magnificent suite which was restored between 1987 and 1995. On the ground floor, under the François I gallery, the smaller rooms for the Emperor and his wife were altered in 1808 and 1810 and reserved for the imperial couple’s personal use.

Napoleon’s room
Napoleon’s bedroom has retained most of its Louis XVI decor (woodwork, fireplace, door decorations). In fact, in the 18th century it served as a powder room (toilet room). The decor was enriched for the emperor with victories, bees, imperial figures, and by paintings in gold grisaille, produced by Simon-Frédéric Moench in 1811. Furnished in 1808-1809 in the Empire style, including two armchairs called “paumier” (with unequal armrests) by Jean-Baptiste Rode, who is also the author of the bed (summer of La Noblesse and La Gloire, opposite La Justice, and L’Abondance, it is covered like the rest of the furniture of a mottled velvet whose plum-colored background was rewoven in yellow at the request of the emperor, to lighten it) the room has a carpet decorated with military trophies woven in Aubusson in 1809.

Small bedroom
Former study of Louis XVI (of which the fireplace, the overdoors and the woodwork remain), the small bedroom of the Emperor’s apartments in fact constituted Napoleon’s study, where he had installed in 1811 a gilded iron camp daybed. The upholstery of the furniture and decor consists of a set of green silk, red brocade, “Roman-style” draperies in ponceau brocade (poppy red) and gold rewoven and restated from 1984 to 1995. In the center of the room A large mechanical office by Jacob Desmalter designed for Napoleon I was installed. The ceiling painting, created in 1818 by Jean-Baptiste Regnault, was commissioned by Louis XVIII and represents an allegory of the Bourbons returning to France: Royal Clemency stopping the course of Justice.

Abdication Salon
The Empire furniture (installed in 1808) in this living room bears witness to the abdication of Napoleon I, which occurred on April 6, 1814, and which would have taken place in this room. It consists in particular of a pedestal table and a set of chairs, armchairs and stools with gilded wooden legs covered in red and gold brocade with a motif of lyres and rosettes, made by Marcion, Jacob-Desmalter, and Thomire.

Passage of the baths
The bathroom passage (the wall decoration of which was reconstructed in 1966) also served as a small dining room, as evidenced by a small drop-leaf table called “English style”, made by Jacob-Desmalter and delivered in 1810. The rest The furniture consists of two armchairs made by Marcion in 1809 (purchased in 1991) covered in orange gourgouran woven in Lyon, chairs by Marcion, a console by Jacob Frères, and torches by Thomire made in 1809. In addition, the piece is decorated with six engravings: Views of Milan by L. Radus and François Bellemo, produced in 1807 and 1808.

The bathroom of Napoleon I was installed in 1806. Its Empire style wall decor was reconstituted between 1985 and 1988. It notably houses a tinned copper bathtub lined with muslin as well as a foot bath in varnished sheet metal made by the factory by Martel in 1806, and mahogany seats.

Salon of the Emperor’s aides-de-camp
This room was the room for the king’s vats in 1786, before becoming the antechamber of Eugène de Beauharnais in 1804, then the lounge of the king’s valets in 1814, the office of the king’s secretary in 1832, and the office of the Emperor’s secretary in 1855. The fireplace dates from 1786, while the wall decoration dating from 1808 was reconstructed in 1987-1989. This room, much more sober than the previous ones, has furniture installed in 1806, consisting, among other things, of a sofa and eight white-painted wooden seats, made by Boulard, covered with Beauvais tapestry made for the prince’s salon. Borghese at the Petit Trianon in 1805.

The corners were made by Levasseur for the aunts of Louis XVI at the Château de Bellevue. The rest of the decor consists of a carpet rug rewoven in 1995 based on a model from the Tournai factory, a Jacob-Desmalter console (1805), a Lerpsher desk (1807), a stylish chandelier Empire, Louis XVI style sconces and lights, torches made by Galle in 1804, a black marble terminal clock by Leplaute (1806) and two engravings executed after Melling showing Views of Constantinople.

Antechamber of the Emperor
This room, former bathroom of Louis XVI, bedroom of Eugène de Beauharnais in 1804, and topographical cabinet in 1805, became an antechamber in 1808, the date on which its current furniture, of great simplicity, was installed. Its wall decoration was modified under Louis-Philippe (above the door) and Napoleon III. In 1859 the two large paintings were installed, one by Joseph-Marie Vien (Hector determining Paris to take up arms, produced in 1783), the other by Nicolas Guy Brenet (Roman ladies offering their jewels to the Senate, dating from 1785 ). The Italian clock with ten dials, purchased for Napoleon I and installed in the antechamber, indicates in addition to the time, the days of the week and their signs, the date, the month, the phases of the moon and the sun, the equinoxes, leap years and the signs of the zodiac. The rest of the furniture consists of Empire style anteroom benches and stools.

Small apartments of Napoleon I
The small apartments of Napoleon I are located on the site of the former baths of François I, transformed under Louis XV into private apartments reserved for the king, Madame de Pompadour then Madame Du Barry. They were fitted out for Napoleon I from 1808 to 1810. The rooms overlooking Diana’s garden have Louis XV style woodwork and Empire style furniture.

Antechamber of the Emperor
This room constituted the first and then the second anteroom of Madame de Pompadour, before becoming the first anteroom of Madame Élisabeth. It is furnished with painted wooden anteroom seats, made in 1810, and replaced in 1972.

First salon of the Emperor
This room was the second antechamber and then Madame de Pompadour’s study. In 1768 it became Madame Du Barry’s office, then her dining room in 1772. Under the reign of Louis XVI, the room served as a billiard room for the Princess de Lamballe, then as a dining room in 1786, before becoming the second antechamber of Madame Élisabeth in 1791. Finally, it was the antechamber of Cardinal Fesh in 1804 before being the first salon of the Emperor. The woodwork dates from the 18th century, while the mirrors were installed in 1863. The room has nevertheless lost much of its Empire decor, including a pedestal table made by Jacob-Desmalter in 1810 and arms of lights and lights by Thomire, also made in 1810. The rest of the furniture consists of painted wooden seats covered with tapestries from the Tuileries, a Louis XVI clock representing Venus and Love and two torches.

Second Salon of the Emperor
This room was the second salon of the Princess de Lamballe in 1786, and the salon of Cardinal Fesh in 1804. This salon, with woodwork made in 1862, is decorated with several paintings by François Boucher (Jupiter and Callisto, Amynthe and Sylvie), Noël Coypel (Bacchus and Ariadne), Clément Belle (Psyche and Sleeping Love) and Joseph-Marie Vien (Children playing with swans). The furniture was installed in 1810: seats, in gilded wood, upholstered in chiseled green velvet including chairs by Brion, a carpet made by Bellanger, a pedestal table by Jacob-Desmalter, sconces, torches, and lights by Thomire, gilded wood consoles with figures made in 1808 and 1810 by Marcion, a Chaumont chandelier from 1809, and a clock created by Leplaute in 1810, with precious marble from the Royal Porcelain Factory of Buen Retiro dating from 1790 and offered to the Emperor in 1808.

Meneval’s room
This room, modest in appearance and with a low ceiling, was fitted out on the site of the king’s game cabinet (from 1769 to 1782), then the salon of the Princess de Lamballe (from 1782 to 1787) then a room devoted to the servants of Madame Élisabeth (in 1791), then the home of the geographer Louis Albert Guislain Bacler d’Albe (in 1807), before becoming the bedroom of the secretary of Napoleon I, Claude François de Méneval. Its very simple furniture, reconstructed in 1976 using furniture described in an inventory from 1810, consists, among other things, of a bed built into the wall.

Emperor’s wardrobe
This room is notably furnished with a wardrobe shelf unit, made in 1810 by Jacob-Desmalter, and a mahogany toilet seat called “à la Shepherd”, made for Madame Adélaïde.

Coin of the Keeper of the Wallet
This room, former interior cabinet of Madame Élisabeth in 1791, and occupied by Haugel and Landoire (the guardians of the Emperor’s Wallet, who took turns in this room every 24 hours) from 1810, was reconstituted in 1975.

Emperor’s bedroom
This room was the billiard room of the Princess de Lamballe in 1786, before becoming Madame Élisabeth’s bedroom in 1791, then Cardinal Fesch’s bedroom in 1804. The alcove was removed in 1810, while the fireplace was installed in brocatelle. The woodwork dates from the end of the 18th century. The room underwent a general restoration in 1977. The bed in this room (installed in this room in 1810 after having been in the Emperor’s bedroom on the first floor, as were the seats58), in bronzed and gilded wood, with Egyptian figures, wearing golden helmets and signed Jacob-Desmalter, was used by Pope Pius VII at the Tuileries in 1804. He entered Fontainebleau in 1805.

The rest of the furniture consists of an armchair, four armchairs, and two chairs attributed to Jacob-Frères, a sofa made in 1806 by Jacob-Desmalter, a stretched screen Louis XVI mottled velvet, installed under the First Empire, a pedestal table and a somno made in 1810 by Jacob-Desmalter, Thomire lights made in 1810, a vestal candelabra offered by Charles IV of Spain, just like the marble altar clock, a foot carpet by Bellanger (1810) and a chest of drawers, purchased in 1810 from the merchant Rocheux, and installed in place of a lacquer chest of drawers by Martin Carlin (today today at the Louvre).

Intermediate piece
This former cabinet of the tower of Louis XVI (in 1786) then cabinet of Cardinal Fesch (in 1804), is decorated with Louis XV style woodwork, reassembled in 1786 after the destruction of the former king’s retirement cabinet in 1785, and stripped in 1863. The above-doors are copies of works by Lancret, installed in 1839 and sent to the Louvre in 1889. The room was refurnished for Napoleon I in 1808 to become his dispatch cabinet. All that remains of this old furnishing are the tan dog fires.

The library of the apartments was fitted out in 1808 in the former games room of Louis XVI, and a large part of the decorations from 1786 have been preserved (particularly the woodwork and the top of the door painted by Sauvage). A wooden spiral staircase provides access to the first floor. The furniture consists of, among other things, a large flat desk created by Jacob Frères and purchased from General Moreau, and a sofa in gilded wood trimmed with brocade satin, initially intended to be installed in the empress’s state bedroom. The works are classified in alphabetical order (bronze letters on the upper part of the bookcases). The library originally had nearly 4,500 books, mainly relating to history, geography and science.

Emperor’s Office (third room)
The furniture of this former king’s billiard room (in 1786) and then cabinet, was reconstructed according to an inventory carried out in 1810.

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Emperor’s Office (second room)
This room served as a billiard room for Louis XVI before becoming the billiard room of the Grand Marshal in 1804. Part of the furniture, from Madame Mère’s former bedroom (alienated in 1882 and donated by Madame Dumaine) was installed in 1904. This furniture consists in particular of a mahogany bed in gilded bronze made by Jacob-Desmalter in 1806, a chest of drawers by Jacob Frères purchased in 1804, armchairs, armchairs and chairs in mahogany made by Marcion in 1806, a mahogany pedestal table, and a gilded bronze Apollo clock purchased in 1806.

Emperor’s Office (first room)
This room is located on the site of the former baths of François I, and half of the dining room of Louis XVI. The Louis XVI style cornice was completed under the Empire, while the fireplaces were installed in 1862, the date at which several paintings were embedded in the wall: Concert of birds by Frans Snyders, Birds of prey swooping down on wild ducks in a marsh by Jan Fyt, Birds and two anonymous hares, Parrot, white pheasant and anonymous spoonbill, twelve anonymous paintings representing pigeons and ten anonymous paintings representing hawks, as well as two studies: Ducks and Eagles by Pieter Boel. The furniture includes a mahogany chair by Jacob Frères, a roll-top desk by Jacob-Desmalter (1806) and single-branched sconces by Duverger (1808).

Swan Pass Antechamber
Located on the site of François I’s steam rooms, the antechamber served as a room for Louis XVI’s buffets. It owes its name to the gilded lead fountain it contains, representing a child playing with a swan among the reeds carried on a marble shell, made in 1784 by the sculptor Roland and the bronze maker Thomire. The room also preserves a Sèvres porcelain service, decorated in carmine monochrome with garlands of flowers and ribbon bows, used under Louis XV and Louis XVI.

Topographic office
This cabinet, located on the site of Louis XVI’s dining room, has a cornice dating from this period and completed under the Empire. The room was modified in 1862 (moving the fireplace, creating a false door). Furnished with three large tables made by Jacob-Desmalter in 1805, this room was used by the Emperor to prepare for his campaigns. The geographic clock, work of Antide Janvier, indicates the exact time in each region of France. Created for Louis XVI in 1791, it was acquired by Napoleon I in 1806.

The rest of the furniture consists in particular of a Louis XVI cylinder desk attributed to Riesener, sconces with arrows, a gilded bronze fire made by Ravrio in 1808, a Bellanger carpet dating from 1810 and modified during the Restoration, two mahogany armchairs with sphinxes and inlays by Jacob Frères, mahogany chairs and grid backs by Jacob-Desmalter, and an armchair mahogany desk by Marcion dating from 1806. The five overdoors are decorated with grisailles: three were made by Sauvage in 1786, while the other two (Parque and Victoire) were made by Lussigny in 1810.

Royal Apartments Wing
The wing known as the “royal apartments” was built in the 16th century in the footsteps of the old medieval castle, of which it follows the ovoid layout, around the Oval courtyard. In 1565, Catherine de Medici doubled the building adjoining Diana’s garden and thus increased the number of apartments. The interiors will undergo various modifications from the 16th to the 19th century.

Apartments of Empress Joséphine
Located on the ground floor of the wing of the royal apartments, Joséphine’s apartments were fitted out for her in 1808, from a series of rooms with Louis XV style paneling. They were occupied by Empress Marie-Louise from 1810.

Empress Study Room
The rotunda study lounge is located under the council room. The Empire style furniture, which belonged to Marie-Louise, consists in particular of an embroidery loom and its easel, a drawing table by Jacob-Desmalter, and a writing table. The pianoforte belonged to Hortense de Beauharnais.

This boudoir or “passage cabinet” is decorated with a pleated green taffeta hanging dating from 1808 and is furnished with an alcove bench and chairs by Jacob-Desmalter (1808), as well as an alabaster lamp with gilded swan’s neck, by Chaumont (1809).

Empress’s bedroom
The furniture in this small room consists in particular of a bed with a singular crown, enlarged in 1843 for one of the daughters of Louis-Philippe and her husband, in white Lyon silk and lapis blue brocade in gold.

Originally a boudoir, this room can also be used as a bathroom. It can in fact be transformed using a sofa whose rolling platform hides a bathtub built into the floor. The furniture in this bathroom consists of a secretary in yew wood, a set of gondola seats in gilded wood, whose gourgouran in sky blue taffeta was rewoven identically in 1977, a psyche and a mahogany dressing table decorated with Thomire bronzes. Behind the sofa is a small cabinet serving as a wardrobe.

Passage room
This passage or “service” room, former large cabinet (in 1754) then private cabinet (1771) of Madame Victoire, before becoming the bedroom of the deputy governess of the Children of France (in 1783), has a redone decor in 1859. It is notably furnished with a pedestal table by Jacob-Desmalter (1809), a Chinese parasol chandelier by Chaumont (1809), a lemon tree and amaranth chest of drawers with an inlaid figure of Isis by Jacob Frères, and a Bellanger carpet (1809).

Games fair
The empress’s games room, also known as the “yellow room”, with furniture and walls hung with golden yellow Naples stock embroidered with amaranth silk, also presents Empire style furniture with several creations by Jacob Desmalter and a large Aubusson carpet with a white background. This north-facing room thus had low light, which compensated for the liveliness of the colors used in the decoration. The problem of lack of heat, for its part, is solved by a hot air system pulsed from the heat vent pierced behind the gilded wood console. The pilasters at the back of the room are made of bronze to reduce the risk of fire.

Billiard halls
This room once had a billiards table, which has now disappeared. The furnishings consist of a games table, players’ chairs, plus several “peeping chairs”.

Château de Fontainebleau
Fontainebleau is a lovely historic town 55.5 km south of Paris, France. It is renowned for its large and scenic forest that surrounds one almighty château, once a hunting lodge beloved of the kings of France. Built in the 12th century, this chateau is also a fabulous relic of French history, from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance. Over nearly eight centuries, 34 emperors and two monarchs spent time in the estate, inscribed on the Unesco World Heritage list since 1981.

The Château de Fontainebleau enlarged in particular by François I, the residence of Fontainebleau is the only château that was lived in by every French monarch for more than eight centuries. With 1500 rooms, it is one of the biggest châteaux in France, and the most furnished in Europe. Testimony to the life of the official and initimate courts of the monarchs across the centuries, it embodies better than anywhere else the French ‘art de vivre’.

Surrounded by a vast park and neighboring the Fontainebleau forest, the castle is made up of elements of medieval, Renaissance, and classical styles. The overall effect is awe as successive monarchs added their own personal touches. Fontainebleau is an inspiring place, full of rich details. The most furnished chateau with the decor like Renaissance frescoes, precious porcelain, exceptional furniture through the Second Empire. A stroll in the sprawling gardens and along the canal designed by architect André Le Nôtre is a must.

It bears witness to the meeting between Italian art and French tradition expressed both in its architecture and in its interior decorations. This specificity is explained by the desire of François I to create in Fontainebleau a “new Rome ” in which Italian artists come to express their talent and influence French art. This is how the School of Fontainebleau was born, which represents the richest period of Renaissance art in France, and inspired French painting until the middle of the 17th century, and even beyond.

Famous for witnessing many of the emperor’s important turning points, “The true home of kings, the house of ages,” Napoleon once said about this vast castle built in the Classical and Renaissance styles. The Napoleon Museum will unveil numerous major and unique acquisitions, discover at the same time the statesman, the war leader, the head of the family and the promoter of the arts. Napoleon had locked up the pope of the time there for a long time, Napoleon also signed his first declaration of abdication here Appreciate the double-horseshoe staircase in the main courtyard, the Cour d’Honneur, also known as the Farewell Courtyard, after Napoleon bade farewell there on 20 April 1814, before leaving for the Island of Elba.

Fontainebleau is not only famous for its part in Napoleon’s imperial adventures. Discover the Renaissance masterpieces commissioned by François I, the major projects of Henri IV, the refined decoration of Marie Antoinette, Napoleon I’s apartment, the splendour of Napoleon III and Eugenie, etc. Head toward the west wing, where you’ll find the Renaissance rooms and the Galerie de François Ier lavishly decorated by Rosso Florentino, a master of the School of Fontainebleau. Admire the dramatic chimney in the Guard Room, the original Saint-Saturnin Chapel, and Napoléon’s luxurious Throne Room.

Discover the Chinese Museum created by Empress Eugénie, and its precious antiques originating from China and Thailand. Explore rooms normally off-limits to the general public, like the luxurious theater created under Napoleon III in 1857, similar in its refined style to that of the Chateau de Versailles. There is also Marie-Antoinette’s Turkish boudoir, with its fabulous Oriental exuberance.

Situated in a park of 130 hectares, the château spreads its architecture around four main courtyards and is at the heart of three historic gardens including the largest parterre in Europe (11 hectares), the work of André Le Nôtre. Go boating on the Carp Pond, admire the Grand Parterre, also known as the French Garden, designed by Le Nôtre and Le Vau, or take a walk in the English Garden. The botanical and architectural imprint of each monarch promises a truly royal stroll in the park.

Rich in a first-rate architectural setting, the Château de Fontainebleau also has one of the most important collections of ancient furniture in France, and preserves an exceptional collection of paintings, sculptures, and art objects, dating from the 6th century in the nineteenth century. A favourite weekend getaway for Parisians, which gives a remarkable quality of air and life in the Paris region.

A little train and carriage rides are available for a fun jaunt around the grounds with the family, while initiations at hot air ballooning will soaring over the chateau and the Fontainebleau forest, one of the largest forests in the region. Take a break at the Café des Mariniers on the Cour de la Fontaine is well deserved. Appreciate a stop at the restaurant Les Petites Bouches de l’Empereur located in the heart of the château, in the wing known as the “belle Cheminée”, a stone’s throw from the Porte Dorée decorated by Primaticcio.

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