A view of The Grand Trianon. Image © EPV
If you happen to visit the Palace of Versailles do not miss the Grand Trianon. It is the more livable palace where the French Kings preferred to live rather than in the formal and massive Versailles Palace. The interiors in the Grand Trianon provide unique insight into the Empire Style created by Napoleon’s favorite architects Charles Percier and Pierre Fontaine. The Aubusson rugs in The Grand Trianon are classics of the Percier and Fontaine version of neoclassical style.
The decorative approach, color preferences and aesthetics of the French Empire architects are uniquely French.
Five Tips for Decorating with Aubusson Rugs in the French Empire Style
1. Choose colors for the upholstery and walls from the opposite end of the color wheel from the colors found in the Aubusson rugs.
2. Use mostly cool colors when selecting Aubusson rugs, fabrics and walls.
3. Unify and quieten the room by using the same fabrics and colors on chairs, sofa and walls.
4. Mix round and square shapes and patterns in fabrics, furniture and Aubusson rugs
5. Choose Aubusson rugs and fabrics with flat, two dimensional motifs.
6. Choose smooth silk fabrics and flat woven Aubusson rugs in preference to pile Savonnerie rugs.
The six rooms below illustrate these six decorating principles.
Brief History of the Grand Trianon:
The Grand Trianon was originally built by Louis XIV as a retreat for himself and his mistress of the time, the Marquise de Montespan. The King wanted a place where he could be with his guests, away from the strict etiquette of the court that prevailed at the palace of Versailles.
After a period of neglect following the French Revolution, Napoleon had the Grand Trianon remodeled and completely redecorated in the Empire Style. Napoleon lived there with his second wife Marie Louise of Austria. Today the rooms are kept as they were at the time of Napoleon and Louis-Philippe.
1. The Empire Aubusson Rug in the Emperor’s bedroom has a circular central medallion on a gold background with large open areas. The motifs are in the neoclassical style of Percier and Fontaine favored by Napoleon. The gold of the Aubusson rug and blue silk fabric are on opposite ends of the color wheel. Image courtesy Wikipedia Commons.
2. The Empire Aubusson rug in the seating area of the Empress’s bedroom has soft green, taupe and blue background sections, all overlaid with flat two dimensional neoclassical motifs. Note that Napoleon’s decorators were unconcerned that there is no hot pink in the Aubusson rug and liberally used hot pink on the chairs and on the walls in the bed alcove. Image Courtesy Kenski1970 on Flickr.
2A. Another view of the Empire Aubusson Rug in the Empress’s bedroom. All the colors are cool. Even the gold has a cool cast to it. © EPV.
3. An Empire Aubusson rug or an Empire Savonnerie rug in the family room of Louis-Philippe. The cream background of the Aubusson rug is overlaid with a circular medallion and corner sections in purple with blue and yellow accents. The liberal amounts of lemon yellow silk brocade on the chairs and wall unify the color scheme. Image © EPV.
3A. Another view of the family room showing the calming effect of using yellow silk brocade fabric throughout. Image courtesy harwoodgruss.blogspot.com
4. Empire Aubusson Rug in The Particular room. Cool greens and yellows predominate the color scheme. The same green silk brocade fabric is used on chairs and wall. © EPV, Jean-Marc Manaï
5. The Room of Mirrors has an Aubusson rug with cool red and gold on a cream ground. All the chairs are in blue silk to unify the decor.
5A. Another view of the Room of Mirrors. Image courtesy kunst-fuer-alle.de
5B. The Aubusson rug provides the drama in the Room of Mirrors © EPV, Jean-Marc Manaï
6. Aubusson or Savonnerie rug in the room of Malachites. The cool fuschia color predominates the fabrics and is not found anywhere in the Empire rug © EPV, Jean-Marc Manaï