American Empire Period

During the War of 1812, America’s enemy, England, was also at war with Napoleonic France. America’s political sympathies with Napoleon fueled an interest in French fashion modeled on the archeology of Imperial Rome. Many Americans demonstrated their own political outlook by purchasing the highly decorative Napoleonic, or Empire, fashions from craftspeople in American cities, such as Philadelphia, Baltimore, and New York. Delaware craftspeople supplied very little of this cosmopolitan, deeply carved, erudite style. Instead, they perpetuated the simpler, more practical Federal style well into the 1800s. Meanwhile, the Empire effect on portraits during this time demonstrated a growing romanticism, marked by more-expressive brushstrokes, poses and colors.