This medallion made up the center of the great carpet in the throne room at the Palais des Tuileries. Delivered in 1810 for the marriage ceremony of Napoleon I and Marie-Louise, it is decorated with the symbols of the Empire. The decoration fell into disfavor under the Restoration, and the carpet was cut up. The medallion in the Louvre gives some clue to what the original carpet must have looked like.
The carpet in the Throne Room of the Palais des Tuileries
The medallion bearing the imperial coat of arms comes from a carpet that was initially intended for the hall of the State Council in the Palais des Tuileries. Woven at the Manufactory of the Savonnerie, after designs by a pupil of the architect Charles Percier (1764-1838), Debret, the carpet was delivered in 1810 to the throne room in the palace for the marriage ceremony of Napoleon I and Marie-Louise de Habsbourg-Lorraine. The throne room was entirely fitted out by Percier himself. The carpet was woven at the Manufactory following a large-scale model painted by Jacques Barraband (1767-1809). The central part was composed concentrically around the imperial coat of arms, which were encircled by a laurel wreath. In the central part could be found horns of plenty with the attributes of War, Justice, the Navy, and the Arts, framed by eagles with spread wings in the corners. On either side were two identical areas, the centers of which were marked with the letter N, and the background covered with foliage, crowned flowers, and lightning bolts.
Hunting down Imperial Emblems
After 1815, following the Bourbons' return to power, many objects were transformed to remove the symbols of the Empire (eagles, lightning bolts, bees). For this reason, the medallion of the cental section was separated from the carpet. The rest of the central section was sent to the château de Fontainebleau in 1857 (where it remains to this day), and a rewoven side section (given to the king of Saxony in 1809) is today in the château de Malmaison. The medallion in the Louvre presents an eagle with its wings spread, holding bolts of lightning in its talons and set against a sky-blue ground. It is surmounted by an imperial crown and encircled with the collar and cross of the Legion of Honor. All around this motif is a wide purple band separating it from the laurel wreath. This great imperial coat of arms was reproduced in all the royal palaces and on many works as a sign of imperial might.