Saturday, November 8, 2008

Marie Antoinette and Empress Josephine

Ivory Miniature of the Empress Josephine by Ferdinand Quaglia, 1814

Empress Josephine was a style maven of her time. According to Dr. Alice Mackrell in her book "Art and Fashion" (Batsford Books, 2005) , Empress Josephine was "inspired by the example of Queen Marie Antoinette whom she saw as a kindred spirit." Apparently Josephine also surrounded herself at Malmaison with furnishings that had belonged to the Queen.

There is another curious connection between Queen Marie Antoinette and Empress Josephine. Jean-Baptiste Isabey, a painter, initially began his career in 1785 by painting snuffboxes. He received the royal patronage of Marie Antoinette, painting portrait miniatures for her as well as designing clothes for the queen. After the revolution, he rose to even greater fame after painting several portrait miniatures of the Emperor Napolean and Empress Josephine. These became "so celebrated that reproductions of them decorated the snuffboxes of the fashionable."