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Josephine Bonaparte’s Gardens at Malmaison

Published on , by Susan Taylor-Leduc

Josephine and Napoleon I reigned as a power-couple, keenly attuned to the importance of image building to stake their claims to sovereignty. Both descendants of impoverished noble families, they purchased La Malmaison, a manor house and garden, to establish themselves as leaders of Post-Revolutionary France.

François Gérard (1770-1837), Portrait of Josephine de Beauharnais, 1801, oil on canvas,... Josephine Bonaparte’s Gardens at Malmaison

François Gérard (1770-1837), Portrait of Josephine de Beauharnais, 1801, oil on canvas, 178 x 174 cm/70 x 68.5 in. Hermitage Museum, Russia

Napoleon Bonaparte, in a letter penned to Marie-Josèphe Rose Tascher de la Pagerie, whom he famously called Josephine, declared “Sweet and incomparable Josephine, what an extraordinary influence you have on my heart” a confession that he continuously affirmed until her death in 1814. After a whirlwind romance, they married in 1796. Napoleon crowned his wife Empress is a singular masterly confirmation of his dedication to her 1804. Five years later, Napoleon was forced to repudiate the love of his life who, at the age of 46, could not provide an heir to the Imperial throne, but allowed her to retain her title as Empress until her death in 1814. Establishing a Country House During the Consulate , the French government from 1800 until 1804, Napoleon, as First Consul, expressed his desire to own a château. Josephine coveted La Malmaison, a country house located seven miles outside Paris. Built in the 1680s, the house resembled an elegant manor surrounded by a garden and working farm. When Josephine visited the property in 1798 she realized…
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