Révolution and Empire
Chronology : 1790-1799 1800-1809 1810-1819
1792-1794 The Remorses of the Incorruptible
2011 SOLD 900 K€ including premium
The old monarchy had increased social disparities without preventing the economic disaster. It had to be replaced. Theorists within the Première République have sincerely believed that they could govern with a logic based on principles of humane thinking.
Robespierre, nicknamed the Incorruptible, endeavoured to be one of their leaders. Caught in a terrible spiral of violence, he went to accept the war and the physical elimination of the revolutionaries who did not follow all of his own logic. In terms of communication, it could not operate.
He published much, and his political thought has been the subject of detailed studies. Understandably it was compromising to own his manuscripts, and many of them were burned. But nobody really paid attention to 116 pages of handwritten work that had been kept by his housekeeper Duplay. These drafts cover two years of preparation of his most important speeches since 1792 until the swan song of 8 Thermidor year II (July 26, 1794), the day before his sudden fall.
Most of the final texts are known, but many writing remorses make of these documents a unique testimony penetrating in depth into the mind of Robespierre. The lot is estimated € 200K, for sale as a single lot on May 18 by Sotheby's in Paris.
As always when exceptional historical documents arrive on the market, activist groups are trying to stop the sale.
POST SALE COMMENT
According to the facility allowed by the French law as "droit de préemption", these documents have been acquired by the French State at the best bid price, € 900K including premium. The government has two weeks to confirm that decision.
It was difficult to predict the price for such a unique set that had never been offered on the market before.
This lot was shown on the article shared by ARTINFO before sale.
1795 A Triumph for Louis XVI ... in 1882 !
2011 SOLD 6.9 M$ including premium
The 12th Duke of Hamilton was not an art lover, and he had a urgent need for money. The sale of his collection in 2213 lots at Christie's in London was an event that experts still quote.
The portrait of Philip IV by Velazquez, acquired by the British government for 6000 guineas, was however not the highest result of the sale.
Indeed, a Louis XVI commode and secretaire had been sold separately, and to two different clients, for a price quoted as "enormous,never before given for a piece of furniture" in the article, of 9450 pounds each. Mounted in gilt bronze by Gouthière, these two ebony furniture lacquered in black and gold are bearing the monogram of Marie-Antoinette.
The sale of the Safra collection will last four days, from October 18 to 21, at Sotheby's in New York. A pair of furniture is for sale in one lot estimated $ 5M.
This commode and its secrétaire en suite had been included in the Hamilton sale. Like the two royal furniture discussed above, they are from Louis XVI time, mounted in bronze and lacquered. They are attributed to Adam Weisweiler.
Here is the link to the lot in the catalogue.
POST SALE COMMENT
French furniture has become difficult to sell, except, of course, those of the highest quality. This set of two pieces was sold $ 6.9 million including premium.
The estimated date given in the catalog is circa 1795, after the death of Louis XVI. It is possible that this set was intended to Tsar Paul I, but it has not been been delivered to him.
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 the original watercolors by Redouté for Les Liliacées
1985 SOLD for $ 5.5M including premium ($ 5M before fees) by Sotheby's
1804-1806 pair of flintlock pistols made by Boutet for Bolivar
2004 SOLD 1.7 M$ including premium by Christie's
1807-1809 the Marly Rouge Service in Sèvres Porcelain
2018 SOLD for $ 1.8M including premium by Christie's
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
1809-1828 The Monument of Egyptomania
2011 SOLD 1.1 M€ including premium
The many scholars who accompanied Napoleon in Egypt had reaped a lot of information, some of which were of very high importance. The Rosetta stone was rediscovered during the expedition.
In line with the work of the eighteenth century encyclopedists, Napoleon decreed that the multidisciplinary observations of his 160 scientists had to be gathered in one publishing project. He did make it by his official Imprimerie Impériale.
"La Description de l'Egypte" is a monumental work by its size and its quality. It includes 23 volumes, which were developed in parallel from 1809 to 1828. It contains 974 plates, some in colors, most of them involving several drawings.
The copy for sale on May 11 by Christie's in Paris has been bound by Tessier as recommended by the printer. It is preserved in its original mahogany display case. This set is estimated € 500K.
The Description of Egypt had such prestige that its second French edition, by Panckoucke, was started in 1821 without waiting for the completion of the official edition.
POST SALE COMMENT
Excellent price, € 1.1 million including premium, for this monumental work.
A photo showing the importance of this set in its furniture had been published in the release shared by AuctionPublicity before the sale.
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.
1811 Imperial Sèvres
2011 SOLD 983 K€ including premium
Napoléon, always concerned with luxury and always ready to promote his family has commissioned in 1811 a pair of vases to be presented to his younger brother Jérôme, King of Westphalia.
Of "Medicis" shape, 66 cm high, they are decorated with gentle scenes located in the vicinity of Sèvres. On one of them, the emperor and his young wife Marie-Louise go by carriage in front of the castle of Saint-Cloud. On the other, he is riding with some courtiers in hunting dress in the hills over the Seine valley. Both paintings are signed by Jean-François Robert.
This exceptional pair of imperial vases is estimated € 500K, for sale in Paris on October 26 by Sotheby's in collaboration with Piasa. Here is the link to the catalog page.
POST SALE COMMENT
The Imperial origin helped this beautiful pair of vases to achieve a remarkable price: € 983K including premium.
1812 Boulevard du Crime
2010 SOLD 4.56 M$ including premium
While the Palais-Royal is the place to go to fashion, Boulevard du Crime becomes the active center of entertainment and amusements. Its real name was Boulevard du Temple, but the Parisians had given it that nickname as a fun for the horrors that the theaters offered to good people.
At Christie's on January 27 in New York, Boilly observes a large crowd engaged in various activities in front of the entry of Café Turc, boulevard du Temple, in 1812. The costumes can not mistake on the time. This slice of Parisian life is an oil on canvas, 73 x 91 cm, estimated $ 3 million.
Typical of its time, the Café Turc was both a place of tasting ice creams and exotic drinks, and a garden. Paris enjoyed during the next decades an intense development of dancing gardens, cafés concerts, theme parks and restaurants.
POST SALE COMMENT
This lively Parisian scene has been regarded by purchasers as one of the masterpieces of Boilly. It was sold 4.56 million $ including premium.
Here the image of the star lot of this evening, shared a few days before the sale by Art Market Monitor.
1813 Portrait of Murat by Canova
2017 SOLD for € 4.3M including premium by Christie's
narrated in 2020
Joachim is a dandy who imagines himself perfectly matching the role of Cupid. In 1797 he seduced Napoléon's youngest sister, Caroline, who was only fifteen years old. His military feats are useful for Napoléon, and he can finally marry Caroline in 1800. Canova becomes the portrait sculptor of the Bonaparte family. The statue of Pauline Borghese, another sister of Napoléon, as a half naked Venus Victrix, finished in 1808, is famous.
At the height of his art, Canova begins his series of Ideal Heads in 1811. Murat becomes king of Naples in 1808. In 1813 he calls Canova to Naples to make his portrait and that of Caroline. The two plasters are kept in the museum of Possagno, the hometown of Canova. The artist returns to Rome to carve the marbles.
Neither of the two marbles had been seen. The portrait of King Joachim had been preserved by the Murat family. This 50 cm high bust in Carrara marble, fully conforming to the plaster, is mounted on a 16 cm high marble pedestal. It was sold for € 4.3M including premium by Christie's on November 28, 2017, lot 714. Please watch the video shared by the auction house.
This portrait is convincingly realistic. The face is proud, almost vain. The curls of hair are luxuriantly rendered. Canova used his secret polishing formula to give the skin a supple texture.
The marble portrait of Queen Caroline has not resurfaced.
1814 Breguet, the Physicist of Time
2012 SOLD 4.3 MCHF including premium
The eighteenth century had highly important mechanics. Abraham-Louis Breguet, micro-mechanical genius, settled into pocket watches the most extraordinary complications of the clocks, and was the inventor of basic concepts such as the tourbillon and the wristwatch.
On May 14 in Geneva, Christie's sells two Breguet watches, each estimated CHF 800K. Both have two main dials, but for quite different reasons.
The earliest, sold in 1814, has two similar and symmetrical complete mechanisms. The idea of the inventor was to compensate the mechanical resonance, a source of error that was a challenge for the watchmakers. This is the first of three watches made by Breguet on this principle. The other two will be provided to the kings of England and France. Here is the link to the catalog.
The complication of the other is even more spectacular. One mechanism provides the official time calculated according to a regular day of 24 hours, and the other mechanism provides real solar time as it was read from sundials at the ground. The motion drift of earth and sun can reach a quarter of an hour, almost repetitively from year to year.
This specimen with the equation of time, sold in 1827, is posthumous. Antoine-Louis Breguet had succeeded his father. Here is the link to the catalog.
POST SALE COMMENT
Forget the estimates. The press release was convincing, and the two Breguet watches are masterpieces from one of the most brilliant periods of watchmaking.
Technically very bold, the watch with two movements from 1814 was sold CHF 4.3 million including premium.
The watch with the equation of time was sold CHF 2.55 million including premium.
1814 A Pair of Pistols for the Aiglon
2015 SOLD for £ 960K including premium
Le Page realized in January 1814 this pair of short and light pistols, 21 cm including the stock, which may be held by a young boy. Arms and case are inlaid with precious materials, with all the symbols of the Empire along with the Iron Crown which is more specifically an attribute to the King of Rome.
The Emperor desired to express his confidence in the military future of his Aiglon. In a cartouche outside the box, the Centaur Chiron teaches the young Achilles to shoot.
The Empire runs just after into a disaster, with an unforeseen consequence on the art market. Frustrated to have lost the access to Paris for ten years, the English antiquarians rush and start acquiring Napoleonic souvenirs. The pair of pistols of the King of Rome was purchased in 1816 by William Bullock, naturalist and explorer who was a very active creator of museums in London.
This pair is estimated £ 800K, for sale in its original case by Sotheby's in London on July 8, lot 35. I invite you to play the video shared by Sotheby's: