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Discover the exhibition

Joséphine & Napoléon

EXCLUSIVE EXHIBITION AT 12 VENDÔME

From 19 May to 18 July 2021, the Maison presents Joséphine & Napoléon, an (extra)ordinary story in its hôtel particulier located at 12 Place Vendôme in Paris.

Dive into the story of this mythical couple, to which the Maison’s founder was a unique witness.

Visit Chaumet’s social media channels to extend the experience!

AN ETERNAL STORY

Discover the (extra)ordinary story of Joséphine and Napoléon in five chapters, from passion to eternity.

Incomparable

Joséphine, Napoléon, Chaumet: three extraordinary destinies closely tied together. The meteoric and exceptional rise of the Bonaparte couple marked the triumph of the Maison and the beginning of Chaumet’s legend. Its founder, Marie-Étienne Nitot, was not only a privileged witness, but above all, an actor in this saga.

Coronation Sword of Napoléon I
When Napoléon came to power, he wanted to impart the new regime all its greatness and splendour. Marie-Étienne Nitot, a former collaborator of Marie-Antoinette's jeweller at the court of Versailles, quickly became jeweller to the First Consul and future Emperor of the French. At his request, Nitot set the Régent, a legendary 140.5-carat diamond, on the Coronation Sword.
Empress Joséphine in coronation attire François Gérard
Throne of Napoléon I
Portrait of François-Regnault Nitot

Imperial

On 2 December 1804, Napoléon and Joséphine were crowned Emperor and Empress in a lavish ceremony in the cathedral of Notre-Dame de Paris. This moment was made eternal by Jacques-Louis David’s famous painting, in which Napoléon is about to crown Joséphine.

Although he had chosen to depict Napoléon crowning himself – as evidenced by the painting’s sketches, the painter finally decided to immortalise Joséphine’s crowning, who thus entered History in majesty.

PAPAL TIARA OFFERED BY NAPOLÉON TO POPE PIUS VII
To thank Pope Pius VII for his presence at the coronation, Napoléon wanted to give him a unique gift. As the Emperor's jeweller, Marie-Étienne Nitot participated in the creation of the papal tiara.

While his son, François-Regnault, was in charge of bringing the sumptuous gift to the Pope, he stopped by Milan where he met the Empress. Joséphine immediately fell under the spell of Nitot workshop’s creations, leading it to become her official jeweller.
Le Sacre de Napoléon Jacques-Louis David
Le Sacre de Napoléon Jacques-Louis David
Joséphine intaglio set Chaumet

Joséphine

Born in Martinique, Joséphine nurtured her love for exoticism and luxuriant nature from her native island. At the Château de Malmaison, which she made her haven of peace, the Empress cultivated her passion for botany. Thanks to her, the Château’s greenhouse showcases the largest collection of plant species in Paris at the time.

EARS OF WHEAT TIARA SIMILAR TO THE ONE MADE FOR EMPRESS JOSÉPHINE
Marie-Étienne Nitot's naturalistic jewels are very dear to the Empress’ heart. She commissioned the jeweller to make a tiara decorated with ears of wheat, set with diamonds. Joséphine's jewellery collection was immense. She adorned herself with pearls and intaglios and even matched her ornaments to the tone of the room she was in.

Empress of style, Joséphine reinvented fashion. To perfect her look as a sovereign, she brought back tiaras into fashion, classical symbols of power and majesty. Soon, all the ladies of the court imitated her and Marie-Étienne Nitot's workshop was flooded with orders for these precious head jewels, which still are the Maison’s speciality nowadays.
Joséphine intaglio set Chaumet
Portrait of Empress Joséphine, Antoine-Jean Gros
The Leuchtenberg Pearl Necklace

DYNASTY

Despite his love for her, and under pressure from his family and ministers, Napoléon divorced Joséphine in 1809. Marie-Étienne Nitot died a few months earlier. His son, François-Regnault, took over the reins of the workshop, which surpassed itself to honour the orders of the Emperor and his new wife, Marie-Louise.

JOSÉPHINE’S ACROSTIC BRACELETS WITH THE NAMES OF HER CHILDREN, HORTENSE AND EUGÈNE
Although she did not give him an heir, the Empire continued through Joséphine's descendants, with her grandson, Napoléon III. Today, no less than five European monarchs are direct descendants of Empress Joséphine: the Swedish royal family, the Queen of Denmark, the Grand Duke of Luxembourg as well as the Kings of Norway and Belgium. Joséphine thus fully deserves her nickname of "grandmother of Europe".
Hortensia brooch Chaumet
Bandeau tiara Chaumet
Clover brooch Chaumet

ETERNITY

At the end of the Empire in 1815, François-Regnault Nitot handed over the Maison to his workshop head, Jean-Baptiste Fossin, who continued to make it shine. Far from stopping there, the extraordinary story that began during the Revolution is still being written today.

EMPRESS JOSÉPHINE'S MALACHITE CAMEO SET
Jeweller to Napoléon and Joséphine, Chaumet jewels have made Napoléon's majesty shine even brighter. Thanks to these creations, the love story and the exceptional destiny of the Emperor and Empress became eternal, just like the stones that set their jewels.
Leuchtenberg tiara Chaumet
Pair of wristwatches Chaumet
Crèvecoeur tiara Chaumet
SEE ALSO
Discover more about the history of Empress Joséphine and the Maison.