Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Napoleonic Bee

We have a set of 18 water glasses with a simple raised bee motif repeated on the exterior. They are elegant and economical in their simplicity. While these pieces came from Mosaique Imports in Sydney I thought it would be interesting to look at the significance behind the bee motif. Quite often we see objects in daily life which have layers of meaning attached to things such as coats of arms or a Latin motto. The placement of an animal on a heraldic shield quite often signified a special relationship between the characteristics of a species or the flora of a region. Sometimes, as with Constantine the Great ( 272 - 337 AD) he used icons like the labarum to affirm the fusion of faiths (pagan and christian) to his political will.

The bee has the dual values of resurrection and immortality. Napoleon had strategically chosen to use this motif as a means to legitimise and fuse his reign to that of the earliest rulers of France. Sources in the 17th Century found Cicadas (Golden Bees) in the tomb of Childeric the 1st, founder of the Merovingians in 457AD. Homewares designers around the globe 'gain inspiration' from historical periods and styles. It filters down through fabric throws, bathroom towels, down to vases and stationary. All I know is that my glasses have survived the rigors of my dishwasher and they have the added benefit of being beautifully proportioned. Vive la republique!

Top image: La Rochere water glass and tumbler. 

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