Whenever I meander through the Palazzo Pitti, I am always intrigued by a smallish room, decorated throughout with white marble. It never fails to entertain me to know that this room is called Napoleon’s bathroom. I can just picture him in the tub!
In fact, it was Napoleon’s sister, Elisa Baciocchi, who ruled the Grand Duchy of Tuscany from 1807 to 1814, in the name of her famous brother, who apparently created this room.
During her regency, the Grand Duchess chose to live in Palazzo Pitti and many “improvements” were planned for the palace, to meet her “imperial residence needs.”
Unfortunately for her, none of the planned changes could be implemented, except for the “Emperor’s bathroom,” located on the noble floor of the Palace, the current Palatine Gallery.
Work began in 1813 on the design of the court architect Giuseppe Cacialli, who put in place the beautiful marble floor produced by the Opificio delle Pietre Dure.
Cacialli also prepared the pipeline and the taps, as well as the boiler to ensure hot water in the marble tub, which was created by the well-known Italian sculptor, Lorenzo Bartolini.
The walls were adorned with a stucco frieze with horticultural motifs, trophies and musical instruments, while the decoration of the ceiling depicts scenes of Ganymede and the Bacchanti.
The lunette bas-reliefs represent scenes of Venus and the Triumph of Cassiopeia, while the marble statues inside the niches depict Galatea, Dori, Thetis, and Amphrodite.
This small but elegant room was completed in early 1821, which coincided with the Restoration of Ferdinand III of the Lorenese dynasty. He became Grand Duke of Tuscany.
Napoleon’s Bath, 1813-1821, Palatine Gallery, Pitti Palace