Sunday, July 15, 2007

Big Head's Crib

Unfortunately for Napoleon Fran├žois Joseph Charles Bonaparte, the name "Big Head" for short has stuck.
Napoleon's son was born in Paris, March 20,1811. I keep coming across pictures of his crib, so I believe this to be a sign to record my thoughts on the topic.
The crib was a collaboration of Thomire, Odiot, and Prud'hon, some pretty famous artists, sculptors and cabinet makers. (Prud'hom painted the Empress paintings I featured last week.) Truly, this is a crib fit for a mini emperor.
It is a tad over the top though...and dare I say it, frightening? How would you like to wake up and see that eagle coming at you?
By the way, Napoleon gave a 275-carat diamond necklace (you can see it in the painting) to Empress Marie Louise as a way of thanking her for producing the heir he so desperately wanted. I guess divorcing Josephine did pay off temporarily.
I found the crib listed with Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna. I hope it is something I can see some day.
The golden cradle was a gift from the city of Paris to the empress. The decorative motifs glorify Napoleon. More than 280 kilograms of precious materials were used for the cradle. This imposing piece of furniture is more a throne-shaped bed than a cradle.
The design was the work of the painter Pierre-Paul Prudhon. The iconographic designs refer on the one hand to the event of the birth of the prince and heir to the throne, on the other hand to his illustrious father, Napoleon I, and the empire founded by him. Thus the cradle rests on crossed cornucopias, symbols of good governance and wealth. The two little angels, or genii, symbolise strength and justice. The sides of the bed are richly decorated with bees. Napoleon had adopted the bee as his personal emblem in place of the fleur-de-lis of the Bourbons. At the same time the bees represent the industry of the citizens of Paris, who work like bees for their emperor. A goddess of victory crowns the child with a diadem of stars and a laurel wreath. The laurel wreath represents the French imperial crown, with which Napoleon crowned himself. The greatest star of the diadem bears the capital letter N: Napoleon himself is the bright star of the sky. The little eagle who still cannot fly is the king of Rome, who hopes to become a star as bright as his father.


Susan Williamson said...

This Napoleon stuff is fascinating. In my opinion, you need to write a book.

Shako said...

That lucky, lucky boy. Too much love. And all I got for that was a wooden cot with no decorations, poor me! =D
Let's hope he shall fly someday...

Rob From Amersfoort said...

Actually, the cradle is on display in the Imperial Treasury Museum (Schatzkammer) in the Hofburg Palace.