Napoleon Bonaparte - Empire
The pattern of this cushion is inpired by of one of the two side sections of the enormous carpet used in the Throne Room of the Tuileries during the Empire period, of which only a few fragments survive at the Mobilier National.
This carpet, probably rewoven to decorate one of the Imperial residences, was offered by Napoleon to the King of Saxony, Frederick-Augustus 1st (1750-1827), during his visit to Paris in December 1809. It is the only carpet from the Imperial period to have retained its Napoleonic emblems. The letter N (for Napoleon) is in the centre, inside a laurel wreath (worn in Antiquity by victorious Roman warriors), and it is surrounded by twenty-eight bees.
Napoleon chose the bee as his emblem to reflect his decision to attach the new dynasty to that of the first Frankish Kings who had reigned over Gaul. Jewellery in the shape of insects that were believed to be bees had in fact been found during the 18th century in the tomb of Childeric 1st, the father of Clovis, who reigned during the 5th century. But they were almost certainly cicadas or crickets, symbols of death or resurrection. The motif in the middle is flanked on two sides by an Imperial Crown and on the two other sides by a huge acanthus leaf. The corners of the carpet are decorated with the winged thunderbolts of Jupiter. A frame of flowers and a border of stars surround the entire composition.