Napoleon and Josephine's link to the Rose Garden, a brief history

Napoleon and Josephine's link to the Rose Garden, a brief history

Everything has a history. Though roses have been cultivated and displayed in China for more than 1,000 years, the popularized Rose Garden has it's origin's in the garden's of Napoleon's Joséphine. Joséphine de Beauharnais.

Born in 1763 on the Island of Martinique, Marie Josèphe Rose Tascher de La Pagerie, and known as Rose until Napoleon insisted on calling her Joséphine. The portrait shown below was painted on the inside of an 18k gold snuff box by the Imperial goldsmith, circa 1810. 

empress josephine rose garden

While Napoleon was off in Egypt in 1799, Joséphine bought a chateau at Malmaison and had the garden designed in the English style. Taking great interest in the captivatingly fragrant thorny plants, Joséphine brought talented gardeners and scores of rose plants to her chateau. Seeking to aquire every known rose, she enlisted the help of her powerful husband, who had all seized vessels searched for specimens, which were imported back to France. 

The magnificent blooms of the Empress' garden were recorded between 1817 and 1820 in the Les Roses by artist Pierre-Joseph Redouté. You can see them online at the New York Public Library. Upon her death in 1814, Joséphine had collected more than 250 varieties of roses and her plant scouts had introduced another 200 plants to France, including the ever-popular dahlia.

See our Victorian Rose Button Pendant to wear a piece of this history!

antique button Victorian Rose Necklace

Read more about Josephine in this New York Times Article



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