The cartoon for this carpet, which celebrates poetry and the triumph of the Arts and Sciences, was first commissioned by the Emperor Napoleon. Designed by the most influential designer of Savonnerie carpets of the first half of the nineteenth century, Louis Saint-Ange-Desmaisons (1780-1860) it was woven at the Savonnerie for the library of the Chateau de Compiègne. Louis Saint-Ange Desmaisons, known as Saint-Ange, who at the time had recently been appointed as designer to the Mobilier Imperial, supplied this magnificent design for the library created by the architects Percier and Fontaine and their pupil Louis Martin Berthault (d.1823), who was a protege of Empress Josephine (d.1814).
It is designed in the antique manner promoted by Charles Percier and Pierre-François-Leonard Fontaine's Recueil de decorations interieures of 1801. Its earthen red ground, framed by a palm-flowered ribbon guilloche, is strewn with floral bouquets incorporating golden trophies of books and instruments, emblematic of the Sciences and the Cardinal Arts of Architecture, Painting, Sculpture and Music/Poetry; and these are enwreathed by flowered and beribboned laurels and interspersed with 'Apollo' sunflowers,while its borders comprise a flowered 'arabesque' rainceaux of Roman acanthus and a flowered wreath of myrtle.
The present carpet contains fewer roundels and lacks the outer border of the original. The fine weave, depressed warps and delicate use of colour shading however confirm that this is a product of the Savonnerie looms, probably woven a little after the first example. Such reweavings of popular designs are frequently encountered; one of the most popular of all the mid-18th century designs of Pierre-Josse Perrault was woven more than ten times during the reign of Louis XV. (P. Verlet: The James A. de Rothschild Collection at Waddesdon Manor, The Savonnerie, Fribourg, 1982, pp.239-245 and 279). The colours of the present carpet, woven also on a warm brown ground rather than the black of the original, indicate that it was probably woven in the second quarter of the nineteenth century.