Jardin de la Malmaison
When Joséphine de Beauharnais, first wife of Napoleon Bonaparte, acquired the Château de Malmaison in 1798, her goal was to build a collection of plants that would surpass those of other leading politicians in France. Joséphine utilized the services of eighteenth-century botanists (including those from the Jardin des Plantes) and her husband’s wealth and imperial reach to create a one-of-a-kind collection of exotic flora from both temperate and subtropical regions. In Jardin de la Malmaison (1803–1805), a publication designed to immortalize Joséphine’s glorious achievement, Étienne Pierre Ventenat, the book’s author and a botanist who had aided the garden’s remodeling, wrote in his dedication to Joséphine:
You [Joséphine] have brought together the rarest plants of the French soil. There are even several that have barely left the Arabian deserts and the burning sands of Egypt that have been naturalized by your care, and which, now classified and presenting themselves to us in the beautiful garden of Malmaison, form the sweetest souvenir of the conquests of your illustrious consort and the most charming proof of your well used hours of leisure.
Lawrence, George H. M., ed. A Catalogue of Redoutéana Exhibited at the Hunt Botanical Library 21 April to 1 August 1963. Pittsburgh: Hunt Botanical Library, Carnegie Institute of Technology, 1963, p. 20.
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