Empire

The whole of the art of the Empire period was designed to legitimate Napoleon and his power. The spread of the style was helped by Napoleon’s campaigns but also by the increased exports of products and books of samples and models to European countries. Empire influences in Croatia are only episodic, and are visible in miniature portrait painting and in the fine crafts. There are few examples of Empire furnishing in the Museum’s collection and they mostly bear the formal features of the Viennese variant of the style, which can be seen in the more copious employment of carved and inlaid decoration, without any marked monumentality. In the shaping of furniture the refined elegance of early Neoclassicism is abandoned, and grandeur and monumentality tend to be stressed. The console mirror, like the specimen shown in this room, is a common feature of the furnishing of Empire interiors in which objects of pure geometrical forms were located along the wall in strict symmetry. The smooth surfaces of the furnishing were most often veneered with expensive mahogany, and the main decorative elements are mounts of gilt bronze. Decorative motifs inspired by the art of Ancient Egypt and Imperial Rome prevail. This influence is obvious in the typology of the furniture: bedside tables in the shape of pyramids or columns (somno, so called), and chaises longues of the Rćcamier type with the characteristic curved sides, clearly deriving from Roman Antiquity. The harp shown represents one of the characteristic elements of Empire interiors.

The exhibited objects of metal are formed in the spirit of Neoclassicism, but the repertoire of the decorative elements of classical antiquity is expanded with motifs from Egyptian art. In this period candlesticks, candelabras and decorative vases are often made of gilt and patinated bronze. Decorative elements of ancient columns, urns, garlands, palmettes, musical instruments like lyres, lion and other animal heads and feet, intertwined snake bodies and sphinxes would be applied to silver objects such as salvers, jugs, salt cellars and sugar basins.

In this room, alongside Viennese work, there are some products by domestic craftsmen – Zagreb master craftsman Vinko Lehman and Varaždin craftsman Juraj Kunić.