Clérambault-+##+—+##+-Bedcover, 1809, Linen and needle lace; 228.6 cm (90 inches) (length), Edgar J. Lownes and Mary B. Jackson Funds 42.001
Before Napoléon Bonaparte divorced his first wife, Josephine, a bed set was commissioned for her use at their residence, Malmaison. The bed set, produced by M Deschaleries, consisted of curtains, valances, a canopy, and a bedcover. The ground of the bedcover is sprinkled with bees, a symbol of Napoléon’s empire. The year the coverlet was completed was also the year of the divorce, and Napoléon refused to pay for the set. In an attempt to induce Napoléon to purchase the bed set for his new wife, Marie Louise of Austria, Deschaleries had Josephine’s monograms removed from each piece. Oddly shaped patches at the four corners of this piece indicate the original locations of Josephine’s monograms. Napoléon eventually purchased the bed set but for a price much less than what it had cost to produce.