This carpet provides an exceptional example of the renaissance of carpet production during the reign of Napoleon at the beginning of the 19th century. During the French Revolution and the years that followed, carpet production in France diminished due to its association with the nobility and aristocracy. With the rise of the Empire, Napoleon reinstituted patronage to major carpet production workshops such as Aubusson and Savonnerie, although the designs became determinedly different.
As demonstrated through this Aubusson carpet, this period introduced neoclassical motifs into carpet design. Here, the central medallion containing a lyre, musical instruments, scolls and floral and leaf garlands attests to the period's identification with classical antiquity as mirrored even through the name "Empire" associated with the reign of Napoleon. This carpet then represents the period's return to opulent carpet design and manufacturing with an eye to the classical aesthetic traditions of Greece and Rome.
For further reading please see Beauvais Carpets catalog V, pl. 6 and catalog VII, pl. 3 as well as Sherrill, Sarah B., Carpets and Rugs of Europe and America, New York, 1996.