Empire and Biedermeier

Empire and Biedermeier

Secretaires | Armoires, Chests, Cabinets, and Commodes | Seating | Mirrors | Lighting | Porcelain | Fine Art & Sculpture | Accessories

Empire (1796-1815)
The Empire style dominated throughout Europe from 1796 to 1815. Napoleon’s conquests extended the boundaries and holdings of France. He had conquered the kingdoms of Italy, Sicily, Spain, Holland, and the Rhine Confederacy. His influence also spread indirectly to independent nations such as England, Russia, Sweden, and Austria. The great families of Europe were eager to emulate the example of the Napoleonic Court and the imperial nobility. Napoleon, who saw himself as a new Caesar, chose the monumental styles of Imperial Rome, and was obeyed implicitly by his architects and furniture designers, Percier and Fontaine, who became the dictators of Empire fashion. Austria was directly affected by the Empire style after 1810, the year of the marriage of Napoleon to the Archduchess of Austria, Marie-Louise, oldest daughter of Austria’s Emperor Franz I. After dissolving his childless marriage to Josephine, Napoleon sought a new wife of royal blood who could bear him the long-awaited heir. Marie-Louise became that wife.
Literature: Empire. Madeleine Deschamps. Photography by Fritz von der Schulenburg. Abbeville Press, New York, 1994.

Biedermeier (1815-1850s)
One style of the early 19th century design achieved a blend of the practical and the useful with the refinement of form inherited from Neo-Classical style. This is Biedermeier furniture. The term Biedermeier is used to describe the period in the Austro-Hungarian Empire which lasted from the fall of Napoleon in 1815 until the revolutions of 1848. The term was coined later coming from the word ‘bieder’, meaning unpretentious, and ‘Meier’ which is a most common surname.