Empire (from the French. Empire – empire) – a style in architecture and decorative art that arose in France at the beginning of the 19th century, during the First Empire of Napoleon Bonaparte. Empire is the final development of classicism. For the embodiment of majesty, sophistication, luxury, power and military strength, Ampiru is characterized by an appeal to ancient art: ancient Egyptian decorative forms (trophies, winged sphinxes …), Etruscan vases, Pompeii paintings, Greek and Roman decor, Renaissance frescoes and ornaments. The main representative of this style was J.L. David (paintings “The Oath of Horatius” (1784), “Brutus” (1789))
The predecessor of the Empire style – classicism – placed human dignity above all. Architecture was strictly proportionate to this virtue. The empire came in order to affirm the absolute superiority of the emperor over peoples and countries. The name of the style, derived from the French. “Empire,” speaks for itself quite loudly – “empire.” The empire is also called late classicism, since it was born along with the ambitions of the Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte and a negligible period of 30 years reigned. Nevertheless, the style turned out to be extremely vivid and recognizable, which made it possible to single it out as a separate line in the history of classicism. It must be admitted that imperial ambitions were expressed in art even earlier, but Napoleon did this with particular cruelty and consistency. Like the predecessors of the previous century, he focused on the best examples of Greece and Rome. Unlike previous works, motifs of military glory and expressive monumentality were added to the work of artists and architects: detailed military emblems both in details and in the general decor, massive porticoes of the Tuscan and Doric orders, eagles, military armor, speaker bundles, laurel wreaths, etc. .
The empire itself as a style was formed thanks to the efforts of the painter J.L. David. According to modern concepts, the artist was an amazing stylist. He specially created outfits and furniture for his monumental paintings, which depicted heroic episodes from the history of republican Rome. After Napoleon came to power, David had to change orientations and, instead of a free Roman republic, glorify the emperor.
The Empire style was given a completely new style to the conquest in Egypt. As a result, a wide variety of ancient Egyptian plastic and architectural motifs appeared: massive geometric volumes, large-scale undifferentiated planes of pylons and walls, stylized sphinxes, as well as Egyptian ornaments. The colonnades acquired great scale and elegance, and the master’s buildings were trimmed with gilding. Famous French architects P. Fontaine and S. Percier non-stop designed residences built for the emperor: palaces Beauharnais, Fonteblo, Malmaison, Tuileries, Louvre and Versailles. Thanks to the Empire style, these buildings look deliberately ceremonial.
In Germany and Russia, empire helped to express in art and architecture the ideas of state independence, which were firmly defended by countries in the anti-Napoleonic wars. The world was struck by the urban decisions of the Russian Empire. Ensembles of St. Petersburg, rebuilt according to the designs of K.I. Rossi, as well as public facilities such as the Mining Institute and the Admiralty under the projects of N. Voronikhin and D. Zakharov, still attract millions of tourists from around the globe. The Russian Empire became more flexible, freer and softer than the French; besides this, it was divided into two versions – “provincial” (country estates) and “metropolitan”.
In the second half of the 19th century, the empire began to be replaced by eclectic currents that marked the decline of classicism in general and the empire style in particular.
However, to this day in museums and cities around the world magnificent masterpieces in the Empire style are stored, among which one can note: “Portrait of Madame Recamier” by artist Jacques Louis; decoration of the palace in Fonteblo; The Alexandrian Column, erected by decree of Emperor Nicholas I on Palace Square, designed by architect Auguste Montferrand; other.