This carpet is an exceptional example of the renaissance of carpet production during the reign of Napoleon III 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 reinstated patronage to major carpet production workshops such as Aubusson and Savonnerie, although a new interpretation of design can be seen.
As seen on the present carpet, this period introduced neoclassical motifs into carpet design. Lyres, musical instruments, scrolls and floral and leaf garlands attest to the periods identification with classical antiquity as mirrored even through the name"Empire" associated with the reign of Napoleon.
This carpet is very similar in design to one designed by Louis de la Hamayde de Saint Ange, executed by the Royal Savonnerie workshop in 1820 for the salon of the Duchess of D'Angoulême at the Tuileries Palace, (Dumontier, E.: Recueil de Dessins de Tapis et de Tapisseries d'Ameublement du Mobilier de la Couronne, Paris, n.d, pl.30). Each corner has been resolved with a similar flowering basket flanked on either side by graceful swans of almost identical proportions. A near identical carpet was sold in Christie's, New York, 25 September 2001, lot 388, although that carpet had a differently coloured reeded border.