Napoleon Bonaparte was born in Corsica in 1769 and had himself crowned Emperor of France in 1804, by which time France had a large part of Europe in its power. More than just an able General, he was a charismatic leader and a great communicator, able to pass off a difficult campaign in Egypt as a success for France as protector of the culture of Ancient Egypt. With his culture-loving wife Josephine de Beauharnais he devised a style of his own to emphasize his authority as Leader. They took inspiration from the Ancient Roman Empire and their style took the name “Empire”.
Their family and friends and Napoleon’s entire entourage adopted the Empire style so that it became known far beyond the boundaries of the French Empire. Eagles, palm leaves, rosettes and bee motifs were everywhere on furniture, candlesticks and chandeliers. Prints, statues and busts found their way onto government buildings, chateaux and palaces. In time they appeared alongside snuff boxes and medals in the collections of those who remained devotees of Napoleon long after his fall in 1815.