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Part of European Sculpture and Decorative Arts
Designed by Charles Percier (French, Paris 1764–1838 Paris)
Date: ca. 1809–19Accession Number: 26.168.77
Imperial Porcelain Manufactory, St. Petersburg (Russian, 1744–present)
Date: 1755–60Accession Number: 65.47
David Roentgen (German, Herrnhaag 1743–1807 Wiesbaden, master 1780)
Date: ca. 1776–79Accession Number: 41.82
Imperial Armory, Tula (south of Moscow), Russia
Date: ca. 1780–85Accession Number: 2002.115
After a painting by baron François Gérard (French, Rome 1770–1837 Paris)
Date: designed 1805, woven 1808–11Accession Number: 43.99
pedestal and mounts by Pierre Philippe Thomire (French, Paris 1751–1843 Paris)
Date: early 19th century (lapidary work); 1819 (pedestal and mounts)Accession Number: 44.152a, b
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The smooth contours and restrained ornamentation of the objects and furniture in this gallery were largely inspired by the art and architecture of the ancient world. Interest in classical antiquity was stimulated by the archaeological explorations of the ancient Roman sites of Herculaneum and Pompeii, rediscovered in 1738 and 1748, respectively. Vases, columns, garlands, and other motifs derived from ancient buildings, sculpture, and paintings influenced the forms and decoration of three-dimensional objects produced in a variety of materials.
The initial, rather literal, dependence on classical decoration gradually became more creative. In the early nineteenth century, Napoleon favored a more formal Neoclassical style heavily indebted to architecture, and intended to evoke France's association with imperial Rome and conquest of Egypt. Napoleon's power ensured the spread of the so-called "French Empire style" to all corners of Europe.
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