Sunday, June 01, 2014

Josephine at Musee du Luxembourg


I was going to tell you about the Josephine exhibit at the musee du Luxembourg yesterday, but circumstances intervened.

Don't these shoes look rather sturdy to you? They do to me. They belonged to Empress Josephine.

Here's a 3-part story of Josephine (Napoleon gave her that name. Her real name was Marie Joseph Rose) according to the exhibit.
1. Napoleon is smitten.

2. He makes Josephine his empress and crowns himself at the same time.

3. He dumps her for younger woman who could bare him male issue. France never forgave him and he regretted it deeply on Elba.

Two Josephine exhibits are going on right now at Malmaison and Luxembourg celebrating the 200th anniversary of her death and the first dedicated exclusively to her. 

Swan-like Josie was known for her fabulously graceful manner. Everyone emulated her. And her silvery voice and her great charm.

The swan was her emblem. She adored exotic animals and kept a menagerie at Malmaison,
Her swan-decorated chaise..
Swans along la Seine Sunday last...

There are many, many portraits of Josephine, a major patron of the arts.

A charming sketch maquete of a sculpture-to-be.

She was crazy for fashion. One gown was made completely of rose petals. In one year she purchased 900 gowns. Napoleon put his foot down.

She was a collector of great style and a leader in every arena of decor, fashion and gardening.

She was much admired by society though she grew up on an impoverished plantation and only married into aristocracy through her first husband pre-Napoleon.

Many of Josephine's secrets are revealed in her letters, retold by British author Kate Williams. I can't wait till this comes out in the US. Listen to her tell all Josephine's beauty secrets etc. on Radio Gorgeous.

She decorated Malmaison with great elan

Painting at the Luxembourg exhibit of Josephine's boudoir

Her swan-decorated bedroom at Malmaison

She was a passionate botanist and collected

Drawings of the wonderful Pierre-Joseph Redoute fulfill her fantasies on paper and reflect her collection of roses in her greenhouses. A well-worth while exhibit to visit at the musee Luxembourg .




  1. Annabelle4:18 PM

    Looks divine.
    Great interview on radio Gorgeous!

  2. 900 gowns.......botanist, collector and avant guarde fashionista! She was always so ahead of her time.

  3. Such a fascinating character.

  4. Bonnie L4:46 PM

    Thanks for this, Carol. What a fascinating woman! I think my husband has read anything ever written on Napoleon. He admires him greatly. Not his megalomania certainly, but his military tactics and the life he made for himself. Have preordered Kate Williams book on US Amazon, being released Nov. 4 - yikes!

  5. So glad you are posting even with a broken leg. I haven't had a broken leg but I have had 2 total knee replacements. 6 weeks does seem to be the magic number of days it takes our bodies to heal and then it's time for rehab. Take the time to paint lots of your fabulous still life paintings and scenes from all your wonderful photos. It will go quickly if you stay busy.

  6. Thinking of you today, Carol! Merci for the advanced notice of new book about Josephine! I really would like to learn more about her life. I have visited Fontainebleau and saw her bedroom there.

    My instructions when I had my cast was NOT to stick anything down inside it to scratch BECAUSE our skin would be dry and sensitive. I had regular 2-week visits with Dr. and each time my cast was taken off (oooh - it felt wonderful to have my wrist and forearm free - if only for minutes!) for xrays, viewing by Dr. and then a new oftentimes smaller, lighter cast was put on - but mine was wrist break. Now is velcro/foam removable brace (5 weeks from break). Time did go by quickly. Keep have many friends wishing we could be there for you and many who must be there for you, too.

    Mary in Oregon

  7. crazy4paris5:58 PM

    Love this post and Josephine. What a gal. Did anybody tell you you're a great storyteller?

  8. Today's post is absolutely glorious!
    Malmaison is her masterpiece.Though I've seen Josephine's bedrooms,gowns(those shoes!) and her roses(Redoute drawings are favorites of mine,too) I didn't fully realize what an incredible woman she was.
    Speaking of incredible,Carol, that word describes you!
    Your spirit is an inspiration for the rest of us!

  9. How did I not know Napolean dropped her to get an heir?

  10. Lovely, Carol. I am remembering my sister MK and I went to Malmaison as young kids. Love your sketches here!!xo

  11. Fascinating story and I love that piece of artwork. Very evocative!

  12. Tastemaker and style lover that she was, I think she would love you!
    Perfect subject to write about to help you get back on your feet ! After your ankle break, it's a good sign ! I know that for your recovery time, you're going to do it in style..... Her legacy reverberates! Thanks Carol

  13. ...on Radio Gorgeous. What a laugh. Malmaison is just up the road to us and still haven't got there yet! Thanks for the tour, Carol. xo

    1. LEG
      Broken leg not ankle
      Fractured fibula to be exact. One would like ones break to be correct...ahem.
      I dont have a snow ball's chance of coming close to Josie. No way. She lead the pack. Brill woman but thanks anyway.

  14. You have done what?!!!
    Gosh, I am out of the loop.
    I must return to see previous posts.
    Poor you.
    Sending lots and lots of love.

  15. I have a book here ...somewhere ..letters from Josephine or Letters from napoleon..think it's I will be searching like a madwoman..old mom's..I am guessing..
    Your art:)
    Always a breath of fresh air at the beginning of your posts:)

  16. Oh, you are right! I should have gone to the other exhibit as you suggested! Leg? OMG! I thought it was your ankle, too. Not that it makes much difference, it still needs to heal.

  17. cyndi from SD10:32 AM

    Look at you with a FRACTURED FIBULA...still feeding our hunger for anything relating to Paris.
    Would it be bad form to ask how this happened.It seems like it would have to be a bad fall.I cringe as I think about it.You don't have to answer.I love your posts and your spirit.Cyndi

    1. I forgot to step on two steps
      Read all about it in...Centre Medical etc
      Previous post.
      Not a big fall but big enough :(

  18. 900 gowns! Wow, that's what getting into politics will do for you :)
    Looks like a great exhibit....
    I hope that you are mending!

  19. Josephine1:06 PM

    My mother named me after the French Empress, loved this blog and those shoes! Maybe you need a pair for traversing your steps :))

  20. Gorgeous post. Maybe the shoes were actually cold weather boots. Looks like fur around the opening at the top. I am assuming you collected this info from your resting spot at home. Your watercolor is fantastic! I'm sure Marie Rose would have loved it!

  21. Love the post. I think Jackie Kennedy really emulated her, Diane de Poitiers and other French faves. Carol, so sorry about your leg, I've also had a break and went through that with the UCSF Sports Medicine practice. Can't emphasize enough the difference optimal NUTRITION makes. Google 'best nutrition for bone fractures" etc....and cut paste whatever it is you'll really like and eat and then cut all else out. I can tell you IT WORKS. I'm health oriented and daily exercise. But it's particular diet you need. I didn't start mine til late into bone break when getting frustrated--lived in San Francisco--you can imagine hobbling the hills on crutches. Do check it out. I tried to cut and paste here but was too long and wouldn't let me. All best. Hugs.

    1. No edit button! Removed to change PS: They usually don't tell you that if not healing apace, then start mentioning "surgery" which happened 5 frustrating weeks or so into break. That's when started specific broken bone nutrition and taking fizzy calcium as absorbs more readily into system. Look into Flower Essence practitioner, too if possible. If good, they are true miracle workers. On the bright side, lucky you didn't crack your noggin'....Keep your leg and spirits up. We're all sending you healing thoughts...

  22. Wonderful post and the exhibit looks fabulous -- glad you got to see it before le cast. (caste?) I suspect I would like everything in this exhibit. (And that Napoleon was a cad!)

  23. Bonjour Carol. I have been away from months; I return and find out you broke your leg? Still, you manage to report on your blog and cover Josephine's life with excellent photos and a good story. Kuddos. Hope all is well in Paris. Veronique (French Girl in Seattle)

  24. Is this an opportunity to do a series of watercolor studies from your window in different light and weather conditions?

  25. Thank You, Carol. Love this post, Josephine, and your sketches, of course. Appreciate your dedication to this blog. Wishing you a speedy recovery! tina


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