1800 The Marengo Sabre of Napoléon
2007 SOLD for € 4.8M including premium by Osenat
narrated in 2020
Bonaparte immediately understood the advantage of this feat of arms for his personal prestige and for his political future. On May 5, 1805 Bonaparte, who had become Emperor Napoléon I in the meantime, had a throne installed for a military parade on the battlefield. He presides over this ceremony, dressed in the same way as on the day of the battle.
Also in 1805, Napoléon presented his youngest brother Jérôme with the glorious sabre which he had brandished at Marengo. Jérôme, 20 years old, had just returned from the United States where he had married, thwarting the ambition that the emperor could have for him. Napoléon broke this marriage by an imperial decree on March 11, 1805. Having henceforth consolidated his image of a magnificent warrior, he may have used this arm to encourage Jérôme's new military career in his service.
The sabre remained until 2007 with the descendants of Jérôme. Classified as a French monument historique in 1978, it was sold for € 4.8M including premium by Osenat on June 10, 2007. Please watch the video shared by Interencheres.
This arm had been produced by Nicolas-Noël Boutet, the manager of the arms factory in Versailles. The blade has an oriental shape and is decorated with etching. The main fittings for the sabre and its scabbard are in solid gold. The pommel is a Jupiter head in gold.
1800 Breguet at the Time of the Marie-Antoinette
2016 SOLD for CHF 3.25M including premium
This enthusiast who played for Breguet a similar role as Graves with Patek Philippe 150 years later was probably the Count Fersen known as a fervent admirer of the Queen of France and the watch was named the Marie-Antoinette. It was completed in 1827, four years after the death of Abraham-Louis Breguet.
Breguet was the most skilful watchmaker of his time and the Marie-Antoinette could be used as a kind of prototype. On May 16 in Geneva, Christie's offers a high complication watch sold new in 1800 of our calendar (An VIII of the Republican calendar) to General Moreau. It is estimated CHF 600K, lot 123.
This pocket watch 55 mm in diameter has the serial number No. 217 of the brand. It is the only example beside the Marie-Antoinette to offer in the same case the perpetual motion and the equation of time.
The perpétuelle is a self winding mechanism with an oscillating weight offering 60 hours of autonomy from the effect of moderate movements of the user, with a protection against shocks on horseback. The equation of time is a correction of the difference between standard and solar times which can reach up to 16 minutes.
This piece does not include the technique of the tourbillon invented by Breguet in 1801. The steadiness is ensured by the échappement libre à ancre (lever escapement), another difficulty that only Breguet knew to overcome.
General Moreau died in the battle of Dresden in 1813. Breguet reacquired the 217 and modernized the dial before selling it in 1817 to Charles-Louis Havas, the financier who became famous for opening in Paris in 1832 the first ever newspaper translation business which became in 1835 his Havas Agency.
1802-1816 Les Liliacées by Redouté
1985 SOLD for $ 5.5M including premiumby Sotheby's
narrated in 2020
His direct commitment to botany takes place in two phases : 486 watercolors on vellum on Liliaceae from 1802 to 1816 followed by 168 Roses from 1817 to 1824. His scientifically accurate drawings are taken from life in the gardens of La Malmaison, Saint-Cloud, Versailles and Sèvres.
All the watercolors of the Liliacées, bound in 16 volumes 48 x 35 cm for a total weight of nearly 150 kg, were originally entrusted to Joséphine's library in La Malmaison.
The lot was sold on November 20, 1985 for $ 5.5M including premium by Sotheby's after a sensational opening bid of $ 5M, the highest at that time in an art sale.
The buyer was a young dealer of rare books and prints named W. Graham Arader, who immediately made him known. To carry out this operation, he had created a syndicate of clients. Each share gave the right to own four watercolors, some were still available and he kept 30% of the whole. He had been the only bidder but according to his statements gathered by the New York Times he was covered up to $ 20M.
The pieces were chosen in turn by Arader's clients according to a priority determined by a draw. Arader has not disclosed the names of his shareholders. Steve Jobs was probably one of them.
On October 10, 2020 Arader Galleries sold several Liliacées watercolors. The two top lots were sold for $ 530K each, including premium : cultivated pineapple, plate 456, lot 91, and banana, plate 444, lot 90, both linked here on LiveAuctioneers bidding platform.
1804-1806 The Pistols of Bolivar
2004 SOLD for $ 1.7 M including premium by Christie's
narrated in 2020
These arms are decorated without being presentation pieces. They bear the mark of Boutet and the Manufacture de Versailles as well as an inscription of a controller who worked for Boutet from 1804 to 1806 only. The lid of the box has a silver plaque marking the gift by Manuela Saenz to Richard Illingworth at Bogota on June 1, 1830 of "esta caja de pistolas por haver sido esta del uso del Libertador".
Bolivar arrives in Paris in 1804. Born in the upper middle class of Caracas, the 21-year-old widower wants to change his mind and find his place in society. Firearms will be useful in the event of a duel. He admires the meteoric rise of Napoléon Bonaparte. Faced with the political decline of Spain, only independence will allow South America to escape French or English domination.
Bolivar's military successes have been exceptional, but his Greater Colombia is too disparate and he is ill. His resignation, offered on January 20, 1830, is accepted on May 4. He leaves Bogota on May 8. His mistress and very active collaborator Manuela arranges his property on his instructions. Richard was the assistant who managed his debts.
It appears in the highest probability that this pair of pistols was purchased new by Bolivar in Paris between 1804 and 1806. The firearms known to have belonged to Bolivar are very rare, and the correspondence of dates is no accident. Boutet had a showroom in Paris near the hotel where Bolivar resided.
Bolivar's final desire to honor his most loyal collaborators is evidenced by another example. The pair of silver mounted pistols, also by Boutet, which had been presented to him by Lafayette in 1825, was given to a friend who was supporting him financially. This pair was sold for $ 1.8M including premium by Christie's on April 13, 2016.
1805 Amphora Automaton watch attributed to Piguet et Capt
2002 SOLD for CHF 4M (worth at that time US $ 2.4M) including premium by Antiquorum
1807-1809 The Marli Rouge Service
2018 SOLD for $ 1.8M including premium by Christie's
narrated in 2020
This porcelain ware was ready in October 1809, but the concerns of the emperor had changed. Compiègne had been used for a few months to house the King of Spain, whom Napoléon had just dismissed, and the emperor is preparing to divorce his beloved Joséphine, unable to give him an heir. The services are delivered to Fontainebleau.
The dessert service is described as "fond rouge, papillons et fleurs" in the archives of Sèvres, and more commonly as the "marly rouge service". The marli, formerly marly, designates the sloping crown of a plate.
This large service dated from 1807 to 1809 was originally composed of 180 plates decorated with a butterfly in the center as well as a wreath of flowers in a circular band, 36 smaller fruit plates, 16 compotiers in two models, 4 bowls, 4 sucriers, 4 ice buckets in two models, and 8 baskets in two models also. Pieces of form display animal details : dolphin foot, eagle head, elephant head, eagle chick hatching from egg.
Napoléon took this service in his exile on the island of Elba. In 1829 it was presented as a wedding gift by the former king Jérôme to his son. It will be dispersed in the 20th century. Subsets sometimes appear at auction. A group of 12 plates was sold for £ 81K including premium by Bonhams on July 5, 2018.
Abby Aldrich Rockefeller owned 22 pieces acquired around 1940. This set of 12 plates, 6 compotiers, a cooler, two sugar bowls and a jatte surfaced in the collection of her son David auctioned by Christie's on May 9, 2018. It was sold for $ 1.8M including premium from a lower estimate of $ 150K, lot 118.
1808 Pope's Villa at Twickenham by Turner
2008 SOLD for £ 5.4M including premium by Sotheby's
narrated in 2020
Turner wants to express the deep truth of nature. He explores the Thames and buys a piece of land at Twickenham in 1807. He builds there from 1812 his personal lodge according to his own taste.
A century earlier, Twickenham was the home of wealthy Londoners who wanted to escape the city. In 1719 the poet Alexander Pope had built an opulent three-story house on the banks of the Thames, and his garden was designed to shelter the Muses.
Baroness Howe of Langar bought this estate in 1807. The memory of Pope was still attracting many visitors. To protect her peace of living, she has the villa destroyed. Of course Turner is deeply frustrated and irritated by this decision which diminishes the touristic attraction of this village which he had just chosen for himself.
The view of the Pope villa by Turner is an oil on canvas 92 x 120 cm painted in 1808. Already aiming to match the brightness of the watercolors, he had coated the canvas with a white primer.
The scene is pastoral, with small quiet figures, a young couple of shepherds, a few sheep, in the beautiful light of an autumn evening. Beyond the river, the building is the symbol of the ephemeral character of human achievements : it has already lost its roof and the windows are gaping.
He exhibited it in his gallery in London, which he has been using since 1804 to attract customers and art critics. The success of this work which expresses a poetic sensitivity with a high quality of execution is considerable. At 33, he is the best landscape painter of his time.
This painting was sold for £ 5.4M including premium by Sotheby's on July 9, 2008. The image is shared by Wikimedia.
1808 Tourbillon for a King
2020 SOLD for £ 1.58M including premium
Breguet develops after 1806 the applications for its tourbillon. The four-minute rotation, replacing the one-minute rotation, decisively improves the stability.
The most enthusiastic horology lovers are alerted about this progress. France is at war with England. King George III discreetly uses the services of an intermediary named Recordon to obtain one of these watches.
Breguet retrieved the reference of this piece in their archives. Sold on June 29, 1808 to Recordon for the King of England, it appears to be the very first tourbillon to have been marketed. It includes a thermometer, which is certainly a specific requirement of the king, and a Robin escapement that Breguet rarely used. To mitigate the risk of interception by customs, the Breguet brand does not appear on the outside and the dial is signed by Recordon. The payment of the 4,800 francs was completed in 1813 by the Prince Regent.
Remained in its original configuration, the Breguet watch of George III was sold for £ 550K including premium by Sotheby's on November 9, 1999. It is estimated £ 700K for sale by Sotheby's in London on July 14, lot 28.
A watch from the same period, with a Breguet escapement and without a thermometer, is certainly the very first to have incorporated the four minute tourbillon. Sold for 4,600 francs on February 12, 1809 for Count Potocki, it was sold for CHF 820K including premium by Christie's on May 12, 2014.
Fit for a King: King George III's Tourbillon Watch - an horological treasure discreetly sold by French watchmaking genius Breguet to the King of England in the midst of the Napoleonic Wars - will be auctioned in London in July. Click here for more details:https://t.co/Oal8BTVNgx pic.twitter.com/nfqYozr1fi— Sotheby's (@Sothebys) June 18, 2020
1808 A Flat Cap for Miss Liberty
2015 SOLD for $ 2.35M including premium
The other two coins are quarters : of eagle worth $ 2.5 and of dollar worth $ 0.25. These quarters were not user friendly to count his money. They were not popular and their manufacture was sometimes interrupted. In two cases, the production is stopped at completion of a year of design change, generating the rarest types of regular US coinage.
The first sale of the Pogue collection, on May 19 in New York by Stack's Bowers in association with Sotheby's, includes a specimen in exceptional condition for these two rarities. The 1796 quarter dollar was recently discussed in this column. The other example is the 1808 quarter eagle, lot 1128 estimated $ 1.2 million.
The eagle, half eagle and quarter eagle are the three gold coins defined by the Coinage act. At the beginning of the three denominations, Miss Liberty wears a turban like a Phrygian cap which had been a symbol of freedom during the War of Independence.
The eagle is discontinued after the year 1804, leaving the half eagle as the top denomination in production. In 1807, the drawing of the half eagle is changed. Miss Liberty exchanges her high turban to a flat cap. In 1808, the same design is applied to the quarter eagle that will be interrupted from 1809 to 1820 inclusive.
The 1808 quarter eagle in the first Pogue sale is graded MS65 by PCGS. This dark yellow gold piece is in a remarkable state of preservation of the metal, with nice coppery or violet tonings. Struck with a great clarity that reveals the defects from the die, it is by far the best surviving coin in its class, considered as a masterpiece of US numismatics for over a century.
1808-1812 Dead Hares by Goya
2003 SOLD for $ 5.1M including premium by Christie's
narrated in 2020
At 62, the artist no longer needs his art to earn a living and, in these difficult circumstances, he has fewer clients. He had a bulimia of innovations throughout his life. He is trying the theme of still life for the first time in his career.
The twelve still lifes painted by Goya surfaced after 1865. They had remained grouped together in the artist's estate and then in a mortgage which had ended in a transfer in favor of a business partner of Mariano, the grandson of the artist.
Goya had attempted in this set to completely renew the theme of still life. Dead animals are no longer decorative objects or hunting trophies, but beings whose lives have been violently taken by humans for culinary purposes. The beginning of the war is the terminus post quem. The terminus ante quem is their reference in an inventory in 1812.
Goya used the best of his pictorial technique, combining veils of color and heavy impastos, placed with brushes, knife and fingers. The animals are different on each opus. The realistic flesh ready for decomposition attests to the importance of death in the artist's creativity.
On January 24, 2003 Christie's sold at lot 136 for $ 5.1M including premium an oil on canvas 45 x 63 cm showing two dead hares lying on top of each other on a table.
2014 SOLD for € 1.9M including premium
Napoléon was a military leader whose early career took place during the French Révolution. When he named himself Empereur in 1804, his dual attitude became staggering. It was the same man who wanted to be loved by humble soldiers for winning their loyalty and to lead the most luxurious court in the world.
Between the battle of Marengo in 1800 and the fall of the Empire in 1815, the model and bearing of the hat hardly changed and it is not possible to date accurately a specific example. To distinguish himself from his generals, he refused the plumet of feathers and used the wings above the shoulders.
Napoléon bought four hats a year, and each one could endure three years. During the Consulat and the Empire, he worn about fifty hats of which many have disappeared. A true Napoléon's hat can not be in good condition. He had it forced before wearing and took off the cocarde when he reformed it.
On November 16 at Fontainebleau, Osenat in collaboration with Binoche et Giquello sells a Napoléon's hat, lot 89 estimated € 300K, from the collection of the Princes of Monaco. This piece in black felt has still its inner silk but a new cocarde has been reestablished.
See it below, tweeted on November 11 by the bidding platform Interencheres.