Detail of the tapestry representing the Emperor
because of its scale, the Grand Salon was constructed around
a tapestry of the XVIIth century from the factory of the Gobelins,
“Triumph of Constantine,” restored in 2002.
Its subject is Constantine’s (278-337) victory
over his rivals, during the war which opposed several factions
disputing over the control of the Roman empire, between 306
and 312. The tapestry makes a particular reference to the battle
of Pont Milvius, in 312, during which the future emperor defeated
his main rival, Maxence. A legend claims that he saw a cross
in the sky and these words : “In hoc signo vinces”
(you will conquer by this sign). Other than his military victories,
his political successes, and the construction of Constantinople,
he ceased to persecute the Christians, as his predecessors had
done, and even converted to Christianity on his death bed.
the sculptor, was in charge of creating a decor that would assure
a smooth transition between the precious tapestry, and the rough
concrete ceiling. The result was a strange composition, which
is surprising by the contrast of materials, the harmony of colours,
and the effects of movement. Leygue’s statues, in stucco
polychrome, evoke, on the left, the moral forces of that prepared
Constantine’s victory, and on the right, the beneficial
consequences of this victory, to end in an homage to peace.
On top, a group of warriors taming horses symbolises the supremacy
of human beings over animals, and matter.
On the floor, a luminous carpet from the Savonnerie,
woven in 1827, displays Marie-Caroline de Bourbon-Sicile’s
armoury, the Duchess of Berry, mother of the Duke of Bordeaux,
heir to the throne of France at that time. This luxurious carpet,
fabricated at the Duchess’ intention, was saved from a
fire at the Palais de Tuileries, in 1871. It contributes, with
the Empire chairs, the cabinets and tables, creations of Raphaël,
making this grandiose salon one of the most remarkable rooms
of the Embassy.
© Embassy of France in