Chateau de Malmaison, ground floor -

Ground floor, Napoleon's rooms, Josephine's rooms
Malmaison sitting room

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 walking.

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 Beauharnais.

Malmaison dining room
the dining room
Malmaison library, Napoleon's desk

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.

library ceiling

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.

The 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 plants.

Many new varieties of rose were attributed to Josephine and her gardeners, and many were painted by famous botanical painter Pierre-Joseph Redouté.

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.

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