Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Book Review: Empire Style: The Hotel de Beauharnais in Paris

Released today with much anticipation, Empire Style: The Hotel de Beauharnais in Paris published by Flammarion is a stunning collection of photos by Francis Hammond of the inimitable Hotel de Beauharnais. Without a doubt, one of the most beautiful books printed in 2016, this 358 page massive volume covers the restoration and refurbishment of one of Paris' architectural treasures. 

The entire book is dedicated to The Hotel de Beauharnais, unquestionably the most spectacular example of Parisian First Empire architecture. Built in 1713, by architect Germain Boffrand, one of the creators of the Rococo and Regency styles, Josephine Bonaparte (wife of Napolean I) acquired the property for her son Eugene in 1803 from Jean-Baptiste Colbert, Marquess of Torcy, having it decorated and making additions to the property in the grand manor that had been customary of the Napoleonic Empire. What's interesting however, Eugene (Napoleon's stepson) never actually lived there. At the fall of Napoleon, the Hotel became an embassy to the King of Prussia, and has continued to be home to European ambassadors ever since. 

What may be confusing to some is the name, Hotel de Beauharnais. It in fact, is not a hotel in the way that we would think upon first reading. Hotel is a french word, used to denote a large residence. Indeed, the residence is large, and is very private, never open to the public except by special arrangement. The grand mansion, located near the Musee d'Orsay on rue de Lille, is the private home to the German ambassador to France.  

The restoration of the interiors and furnishings was overseen by Ulrich Leben, co-author of Empire Style: The Hotel de Beauharnais in Paris, along with Jorg Ebeling, the Centre's director of research who meticulously details the history of the grand mansion, including the decorative paintings and murals, gilded carvings, prized bronzes, and impressive gardens. 

Part coffee table book, part design manifest, this reference volume of the impeccable work and history captured in beautiful photography by Francis Hammond, commissioned specifically for this project, is 100% inspiring. If you haven't wanted to pack a bag for Paris, you certainly will by the time you reach the end of this remarkably beautiful masterpiece. Take a closer look, and buy your copy via the Amazon link below: 


  1. Oh goodness, can you even imagine living like this? Beautiful book, and a great Christmas gift for our girlfriends. Happy Thanksgiving !!!

  2. Your article and photos are spanking . So like this post .

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