Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Salon des Fleurs Chateau de Compiègne

photo St Tyl

This is the Salon de Fleurs in the Château of Compiègne, formerly a royal and imperial residence. I wandered these rooms over the week-end when I went to see the exhibit Folie Textile, a wonderful show that explores the exuberant production and use of textiles at the time of Napoleon III, 1848-1871. That exhibit and some important restoration work in historic sites is making the 19th century weigh heavily in decorative world's time line these days, provoking a certain rediscovery of  decorative arts of the mid to late part of the century. More on that soon, but for today...

The Salon des Fleurs was a game room for Empress Josephine - specialty tables are scattered for playing  trictrac, quadrille, bouillotte. 
(Trictrac is backgammon. Does anyone know the names of these other games in English?)

Compiègne, le salon des Fleurs
source: Napoleon III
An important thing to remember is that in the 19th century very often fabrics were used that were woven for a prior reign (new olds) and older decors were sometimes kept by the various regimes that succeeded each other - Louis XVI, Louis XVIII, Charles X, Louis-Philippe, Napoleon III.  The reasons: availability, economy, emulation.

During the Second Empire of Napoleon III, the salon was used as a bed chamber for the Imperial Prince  The young prince scratched the date 4 décembre 1868 into the marble table 

Compiègne, salon de jeux du Prince impérial
Bourdelin, (c) RMN

played his games in another well-dressed room. 

photo St Tyl

The Salon des Fleurs takes its name from its decoration. The oil panels painted in 1809 and 1814 
by Dubois were  based on the work of Pierre-Joseph Redouté.

photo St Tyl

The armchairs and settees by Jacob-Desmalter are covered in Gobelins tapestry.The 18th century floral design by Louis Tessier of was chosen by the Empress Josephine and delivered in 1809 - once again,  
an example of  the blending of stylistic frontiers. 

photo St Tyl
detail of the canapé

The ground of the tapestry is a fair lilac shade with a band 
of crisp, violet grosgrain to give  the finishing touch. 
These tones will deepen in textile design as the century progresses even to deep purple and become very popular with the advent of color-fast aniline dyes.

photo St Tyl
A tender, watercolor quality still comes through in this 1st Empire /early 18th century tapestry.


  1. The new aniline dyes must have been very exciting and, possibly, disconcerting colors - stark, staring-mad mauve, never a color I appreciated. And, you're right, there is a water-color quality to these old textiles with their now softened natural colors. Tender is the word that comes to mind.

  2. An extremely pretty posting; I'd hate to see the lilac "deepened" by that progress. Ultimately of course it is impossible to forget 20th Century events in this place.

  3. gorgeous gorgeous. i think i must be a nineteenth century kind of person.

    thanks for a delicious lead-in to a summer weekend!

  4. Dear Blue and Carter Nicholas, The colors to come in the latter part of the 19th century did become harsh at times. It's interesting to think that the color harmonies favored by a period and a style were fashioned in part by what it was technically possible to achieve.