Page 176 - Auction84-Book1
P. 176

Blood, fire & AmBiTion
  The Arms of A Conqueror...
In the 200th Anniversary of Napoléon Bonaparte's Death Rock Island Auction Company Proudly Presents:
LOT 335
Immensely Historic and Extraordinarily
Fine Gold Encrusted Presentation Six-Piece Garniture of Five Elaborately Engraved and Relief Carved Firearms and a Gilt Dress Sword Presented to Napoléon Bonaparte by the Directory of the French Republic in 1797,
The Sword is the One Bonaparte Carried in
His Hand When He Drove the Council of Five Hundred Out of St. Cloud and Became First Consul and Later Emperor of France
-A) Boutet Rifled Flintlock Carbine with Sword and Scabbard - NSN, 58 cal., 19 1/2 inch octagon bbl., gold/blue/bright finish, walnut stock. The
is incredible set of fine arms from the Versailles Manufactory has been famous as the “Napoleon garniture” for over two centuries since it was first put on display in 1816 in London as part of an exhibition at the Oplotheca at No. 20, Lower Brook Street, Bond Street promoted by Thomas Gwenapp. This exhibition came on the heels of Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo and his final abdication and exile. Thus, this garniture was proudly displayed
as a symbol of the victory of the British and their allies. Waterloo remains one of the most significant battles in European and world history and brought to a violent end Napoleon’s reign in France and his campaigns across much of the continent that had cost millions of lives. Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo, however, did not undue many of the changes brought to Europe by Napoleon and the French revolutionaries such as the proliferation of the Napoleonic Code and republican ideals. The values of the French Revolution continue to define French society to this day and led to further revolutions and forever changed Europe and the world.
The garniture remains among the most significant set of arms from the French Revolutionary Wars
and Napoleonic Wars in private hands, and its
ties to Napoleon’s rise from relative obscurity to emperor make it particularly fascinating, historically significant, and valuable. Its history reaches back
to the years when Napoleon was still a rising star
in the young and tumultuous French Republic. It consists of a rifled carbine, pair of rifled carriage pistols, pair of pocket pistols, and a “glaive”
sword and scabbard. Each of these incredible
arms originates from the renowned Versailles Manufactory led by Nicolas-Noel Boutet (1761- 1833) and were beautifully embellished by the artisans under Boutet’s direction. Boutet remains one of the most renowned European armsmakers in history both in terms of the quality of his arms and in terms of his artistry. It is very easy to see why when examining any of the individual pieces of
this garniture, and ever more evident when the set is examined as a whole. The individual arms have varying designs, but also often use symbols and motifs featured on other arms in the set bringing cohesion to the garniture and representing some of the finest work in French armsmaking history.
In general, the various arms are reflective of the earlier rococo style of arms from Boutet compared to the later “empire style” arms which have heavier Greco-Roman and Egyptian influence following Napoleon’s conquest in Egypt and his coronation
as Napoleon I, Emperor of the French. Given the quality of these arms, it is no surprise that the former royal gunmaker of the Ancient Regime was given an 18 year concession by Napoleon as First Consul. While Napoleon reigned as Emperor of
the French, some of the most incredible “de luxe” firearms the world has ever seen were designed
by Boutet and crafted by his talented team of specialized artisans. Many of those pieces were commissioned by Napoleon himself as presentation pieces for his officers, political allies, and foreign dignitaries as well as for the emperor himself and his family. In addition to finely embellished arms, Boutet was also responsible for providing over 150,000 firearms and swords for Napoleon’s armies and thus was involved in Napoleon’s military conquests more directly.
The catalog for the first exhibition of this set is particularly significant as it provides the first known written documentation for the garniture. It is listed as no. 17, and the catalog entry is worthy of direct transcription: “This case exhibits the Sword, Fire- Arms, and Apparatus which were presented to General Bonaparte by the Directory of the French Republic in the year 1797, as a testimony of their approbation, in consequence of his beating the Austrians and Sardinians, and forcing the King
of Sardinia into a hasty peace. The sword is the
one Bonaparte carried in his hand when he drove the Council of Five Hundred out of St. Cloud,
and became in consequence First Consul. When Bonaparte was made Emperor, he gave the case as a present to Marshall Junot Duke of Abrantes, with whom it remained till his death. — The Duchess of Abrantes having remained faithful to Louis XVIII., on the return of Napoleon from Elba, the latter deprived her of her pension. The Duchess being an extravagant woman, was, during Napoleon’s short reign, obliged to part with a number of precious and scarce things, and amongst the rest, this case of arms, given by Napoleon to her husband. — It was purchased by an officer then in the command of the French Emperor, and after the Battle of Waterloo was brought to this country. — Previous to which, they were sent to Boutet, the Director
of the manufactory at Versailles, (whose name is engraved on every article), to be cleaned, who assured the officer who purchased them of the Duchess of Abrantes, that the Directory of France paid him one thousand Louis for making them; and will with pleasure convince any person of the fact who may make application to him on the occasion. The original Case for these interesting articles, is also exhibited; it is made of very curious wood, mounted with a strong silver joint the whole length of the case, and a strong silver lock and staples, of the same dimensions. The lock is of a very curious construction, which by means of a spring fills up the openings that are made in it for the staples, and has other peculiarities.”
Original 1816 London Exhibition Brochure Object No. 17
"The sword and firearms presented to Bonaparte by the Directory of the French Republic"

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