Ground floor interior of Chateau de Malmaison
The photograph on the left shows the
sitting room, and those below show the dining room and library. Most of the
ground floor rooms were used for entertaining.
After her divorce from Napoleon in
1809, because she was unable to bear him an heir, Josephine retired to
Malmaison, but the couple still remained on friendly terms.
In 1814, after the
comprehensive defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo, the allies entered Paris and the
Russian Tsar Alexander I, who had personally led his troops into battle,
visited Malmaison and became friendly with Josephine. More may have come of this
friendship, but Josephine died suddenly after catching a chill while out
In the sitting room there is a painting showing the Tsar with
Josephine and her two children by her first marriage to Count Alexandre de
The dining room at Chateau de Malmaison
The dining room, above left,
is decorated with Greek/Roman wall paintings. Throughout the house there is a
mix of Greek, Roman and Egyptian decoration.
The Egyptian influence dates from
the time of Napoleon's campaigns in Egypt. In fact it was after he deserted his
army in Egypt to rush back to France to further his political career that he
first lived in Malmaison.
At the end of the room not
seen in this photograph there is a marble basin, rather like a church font,
against the wall. This was for the servants to wash the glasses between
courses. In those days each diner had only one glass, not the clutter of
crystal we seem to need these days. And this one glass was taken by a servant
and washed out for each diner as each different wine was poured.
The habit of
having more than one glass laid at each place arose as the number of servants
fell. And gradually the shape and size of these glasses changed to suit the
type of wine they would hold.
The Library at Chateau de Malmaison
This is easily my
favourite room, even though, for a library, it is rather sparsely furnished
with books. It is a beautiful, well-lit room, and because of the vaulted
ceiling it gives the appearance of being three rooms joined into one.
middle part of the ceiling is beautifully painted with Greek-style medallions
of famous authors, and at either side of this there is a decoration of roses
framed with leaves. The rose was Josephine's favourite flower, and through all
the fighting between France and Great Britain Josephine's correspondence with
her English rose suppliers never faltered. They were even able to send her
Many new varieties of rose were attributed to Josephine and her gardeners, and
many were painted by famous botanical painter Pierre-Joseph
The library photograph above shows
Napoleon's desk, note the Egyptian-style legs, and the Egyptian style and
decoration of the small table in the photograph opposite.