At the time of Josephine and Napoleon appear jewelry " Empire ", the very characteristic style marks the history of jewelry , just as there is an Empire style in the decorative arts.
This style lasts from 1799 to 1820.
Under Louis XVI, gold was more used to fund wars rather than to create adornments. After the proclamation of the First Empire by Napoleon, rich jewelery tradition before the French Revolution resurgent.
Napoleon was indeed a weakness for jewelry and he showered his two successive and women of his family wives. He also used to establish political and diplomatic ties . So he offered awards and gifts, sometimes lavish, to reward his friends and join his enemies. Decorations or snuff set with precious stones were made from the finest metals.
Thus, the sumptuous jewels, orders and decorations were propagated at this time to confirm the greatness of the Empire and the power of the sovereign. They mark a return to pomp and exuberance.
However, the resources of precious materials of the time influence the making of jewelry. Jewelry from the early nineteenth century and are thinner but also more delicate and very worked.
At this time, a specific style made its appearance in the decorative arts, combining Neoclassicism to Symbolism of a typically Napoleonic power using the eagle, bee, portraits and figures of the sovereign crowned. This results in an Empire styl , in honor and glory of the Emperor. Dedicated to the worship of Napoleon, it was taken over by Europe. It includes patterns and classic elements inspired by Greek and Roman art combined egyptomania. To display the greatness of the Empire, the Napoleonic court wore badges, ceremonial weapons , and gems and jewelry of great value. Empire style jewelry also have these symbols. They follow fashion, in terms of materials used, color or shape, showing a great wealth of creativity.
The influences of ancient Greece and Egypt, due to companions of Egypt by Napoleon Bonaparte, mark strong aesthetic jewelry this time.
The flagship jewel of this period is the ancient camée, usually carved in ivory or coral .
The materials of choice are coral, pearls, amber, gemstones diamond, which will be used mainly under Napoleon III , after the discovery of diamond mines in South Africa.
The old cut diamonds, rose cut, which had disappeared in the 2nd half of the 18th century reappear.
Symmetry and rigor are being honored by the greatest jewelers of this period, as Marie- Etienne Nitot , founder of Chaumet .
The most common reasons are the monogram N for Napoleon, the eagle symbol of the Empire, straight lines , symbols of ancient Egypt ( sphinx, eye of Ra, beetles) , gods and ancient goddesses , leaves , palm leaves and flowers.
Necklaces are frequently formed arches chains linking patterns of decreasing size from the center.
Another characteristic necklace then diffuses the necklace, long chain enriched with one or more units hiding clasp.
Great collector of jewelry and ornaments, the Empress Josephine played an important role in the revival of French jewelery under the Empire.
Exhibition "Josephine", Musée du Luxembourg, from 12 March to 29 June 2014.