Joséphine and Napoléon: Maison Chaumet Celebrates an (Extra)Ordinary Love Story

   1058  
Joséphine and Napoléon: Maison Chaumet Celebrates an (Extra)Ordinary Love Story
Chaumet, the high jewelry house, pays tribute to Napoléon on the 200th anniversary of his death with an exhibition that does not focus on his military or political exploits but rather on his passionate love story with Joséphine de Beauharnais, his first wife. The venerable maison, now part of the LVMH luxury conglomerate, was founded in 1780 by Marie-Etienne Nitot. He started supplying Napoléon on the occasion of his coronation, working on the Coronation Sword (where the famous Régent diamond, today on display at the Louvre, was set) and also on a tiara that Napoléon presented as a gift to Pope Pius VII. The venerable maison, now part of the LVHM luxury conglomerate, was founded in 1780 by Marie-Etienne Nitot. He started supplying Napoléon on the occasion of his coronation, working on the Coronation Sword (where the famous Régent diamond, today on display at the Louvre, was set) and also on a tiara that Napoléon presented as a gift to Pope Pius VII. Besides these institutional commissions, Nitot’s son and right-hand man, Francois-Regnault, understood very quickly that more business might be forthcoming from the Empress, who was so notoriously spendthrift that the access of suppliers promoting their wares to the Imperial Palace was restricted to once a week, as Napoléon tried to rein in his wife’s shopping sprees. Revolutionary cockades (C) Sarah Bartesaghi Truong But, as is proved by the passionate letters exchanged between the two, some included in the show, there was little that the man could refuse his beloved wife. Joséphine’s charm and kindness had put a spell on Napoléon since the two met during the Revolution. She was recently widowed, her first husband a victim of Madame Guillotine at the height of the Terror, and a whirlwind romance started. Wheatsheaf tiara (C) Sarah Bartesaghi Truong Even after a hard day on the battlefield, Napoléon would find the energy to write to his lover: “What, then, is your strange power, incomparable Joséphine? One of your thoughts poisons my life, rends my heart with the most opposing wishes, but a stronger feeling, a less somber humor binds me again, brings me back and leads me still more guilty to you,” he wrote in March 1796, just a few days before their wedding.
  • SUBSCRIBE
  • ALREADY SUBSCRIBED?

Lead photo credit : Josephine Cameo Parure (C) Sarah Bartesaghi Truong

More in Chaumet, event, exhibition, history, jewelry, Love, Napoleon, War

Previous Article Letter from Paris: May 26, 2021 News Digest
Next Article Michèle Barrière: Author of Historical and Culinary Crime Novels


Sarah Bartesaghi Truong has lived, studied and worked in Milan, Paris and London. Her lifelong passion for art in all its forms and her entrepreneurial dreams were the catalyst for a career change: she left the world of investment banking to go back to school, at the Sotheby’s Institute of London. Ten years ago, she moved back to Paris, the ideal location for an art-lover. As an Italian in Paris, she decided she would keep playing the tourist in her adoptive home town, always on the lookout for the many wonders the French capital has to offer to the curious explorer. VeniVidiParis, the company she founded, plans curated itineraries in the French capital and its vicinity for travellers wishing to discover the city’s vibrant art scene, but not only. Take a look at her recent discoveries on her Instagram feed, @venividiparis, or contact her at [email protected] for help planning your next Parisian vacation.