West and Grand

Meet Josephine: The Olfactory Story Inspired by Napoleon Bonaparte's Beloved

Marie Joseph Rose Tascher de la Page was born on the 23rd of June 1763, on the small Caribbean island of Martinique. She grew up on a sugar plantation known as Trois-Îlets. Josephine cherished flora and fauna at a young age. She particularly enjoyed strolling through the lush forests filled with soft scents of magnolia and camellia. However at the age of 16, Josephine is forced to leave her beloved island for an arranged marriage in France.

She marries Alexandre de Beauharnais, the president of the ‘Assemblée Nationale’  in 1779, thus becoming Joséphine de Beauharnais. They have two children, a son, Eugène and a daughter, Hortense-Eugénie. Their union is not a happy one. Josephine and Alexandre separate in 1785 after 6 years of marriage. They remain apart until, Alexandre’s execution during the French revolution in 1794.

The beautiful Joséphine does not find herself a widow for long. After two years of grief, she meets General Bonaparte, who begins to court and fall madly in love with her. Joséphine marries Bonaparte in 1796 at the age of 33 becoming Empress of France. While her new husband treks through Europe and Egypt with the French Army, Joséphine looks for a home where they can be at peace once the wars have commenced. She decides upon a beautiful ‘château’ in Rueil Malmaison.

Filled with nostalgia, Joséphine longs for a garden that reminds her of Martinique. The Empress constructs large greenhouses where more than 200 new plants bloom for the first time in France. Plants such as the camellia and dahlia are credited for blooming in Joséphine’s garden.

In 1809, after 13 years of marriage, Napoleon and Joséphine divorce amicably. No heirs are produced from their union. The Emperor leaves the Rueil ‘chateau’ to his first love, Joséphine. The former Empress resides in her peaceful domain surrounded by her flowers until her death in 1814 at the age of 51.

Joséphine’s love of delicate florals plays a large role in her olfactory story with famed candle makers Maison Cire Trudon. The Joséphine candle has middle notes of Turkish Rose, Egyptian Jasmine (referencing Napoleons tour in Egypt) and Camellia (paying homage to Joséphine’s native island of Martinique).

The Joséphine Candle is available for purchase at oxfordexchange.com.

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