Throne of Napoleon I at the Legislature, 1805

Bernard Poyet (1742-1824), designer
François-Honoré-Georges Jacob-Desmalter (1770-1841), cabinetmaker
Augustin-François-André Picot (1786-1868), embroiderer
Carved and gilt wood, red velvet decorated with silver embroidery
Gift of the Questeurs, Chambre des Députés, 1907
Inv. 14421.A
© Les Arts Décoratifs / photo: Jean Tholance

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This throne was designed to be used by Napoleon I at meetings of the Legislative Body, an assembly responsible for approving laws during the Consulate and First Empire, from 1800 to 1813.

This carved and gilded wood throne was designed by Bernard Poyet, architect of the Legislative Body, and produced by the cabinetmaker François-Honoré-Georges Jacob-Desmalter in 1805. It included a step when it was delivered, but it is difficult to know whether this is the original one. The arms of the throne are formed by two lion-headed winged chimeras, standing on a single paw. At the top of the chair back is an arched pediment adorned with a laurel wreath and topped with a carved crown. The pine cones flanking the pediment replaced (probably during the Restoration) two imperial eagles, symbols of Napoleon. The letter N for Napoleon in the center of the laurel wreath was also removed.

The back and seat of the throne are upholstered in rich, garnet-colored velvet embroidered with silver threads forming crossed swords and scales on the back and, on the seat, a double winged thunderbolt (a symbol of Napoleon’s empire) and a large rosette with fleurons.

Three other gilt wood thrones belonging to Napoleon, made by Jacob-Desmalter, are held by French public collections: the Senate throne is still in the Senate palace; the thrones of the Château de Fontainebleau and the Palais des Tuileries are now in the Louvre.

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