Page 188 - Auction84-Book1
P. 188

 Following victory at the Battles of Quatra Bras and Ligny on the 16th of June, Napoleon’s forces faced off in battle near Waterloo. Napoleon’s army was routed, and he was forced to retreat back to France where he abdicated for the final time on June 22. He surrendered to the British on July 15. After briefly being taken to England, he was exiled to Saint Helena in October where he died on May 5, 1821.
By the time of Napoleon’s defeat, the loss of her husband put the Duchess of Abrantes in
a dire situation. She had considerable debts, and Napoleon had ordered her to leave Paris following the death of her husband. During the Restoration, she was again in Paris and allied herself with the monarchy, and thus
the return of Napoleon left her in danger. It
is not clear specifically who the officer that she is said to have sold the garniture was, but the fact that she would sell this set of arms is not surprising given her financial situation. She spent most of her remaining days in Rome and also wrote a series of memoirs and other books based on her connections to the Bonapartes and her life among high society in imperial France.
The Carbine:
Highly embellished carbines from Boutet
and the Versailles Manufactory are highly desirable. The factory was known as the Manufacture de Carabines des Versailles in 1794-1799 due to focus on manufacturing plain martial carbines for the French armies. The swamped octagonal barrel from Nicholas LeClerc has fine “saw tooth” style rifling and sights mounted in very slender dovetails. The barrel has a textured matte blue background and beautifully contrasting gold decoration
at the muzzle and rear half on the upper flats. The details include martial trophies, floral motifs, a caduceus, French imperial eagle on a cloud with lightning bolt, scrolls, borders, and large panels at the breech end that feature the “L-C” (upper left and right) and “N-B” maker’s marks of Jean Nicolas LeClerc and Nicolas- Noel Boutet. Napoleon later adopted a related design of an eagle on a thunderbolt as one
of his personal emblems. The barrel is also signed with “Boutet Directeur Artiste” in ornate script with floral accents on top of the barrel ahead of the gold decoration. The vent has
an oval gold liner. The barrel is secured by the cross screw for the front sling swivel, a pair of keys, and a hooked breech. The bright lock is signed “MANUE/A VERSAILLES” in ornate script with floral accents in coordination with the barrel signature and has beautifully sculpted components with scroll accents including
a double scroll cock, light engraving, and
a “scooped” design towards the tail with a coordinating teat. The lock is fired using an adjustable single set trigger. The furniture is
all bright steel and has exquisite chiseled and engraved floral designs. The full-length walnut stock is beautifully figured on the butt, has panels of checkering on the grasping sections, and features beautifully rendered raised relief carving including eagle’s heads at the forend tip, highly detailed floral designs throughout, fine molding, and a lovely sweeping cheek
rest with detailed wheat style border that
then scrolls into a floral bloom at the rear.
The original antique ivory tipped ramrod is secured under the barrel, and sling swivels
are mounted just ahead of the upper ramrod ferrule and on the underside of the butt.
The Sword and Scabbard:
The classical style sword is in the same
pattern as “The First Consul’s Glaive” by
Boutet and the Versailles Manufactory c. 1800 for Napoleon currently held at the Musee National des Chateaux de Malmaison et Bois-Preau. The Royal Collection Trust notes another similar sword as a “robe sword” and notes the existence of four of these swords which have long been thought to have been made for each of the three Consuls. Given the presence of more than three of these swords, not including the slightly different example
in the garniture, it is possible two may have been made for the new Consuls appointed
in December 1799 or as spares for Napoleon himself. Another of the “First Consul” pattern is in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. They date that example as c. 1802-1803.
These swords all have ivory grips with plaques different from the example in the garniture that include “R.P.F.” The “First Consul’s Glaive” and Royal Trust Collection “robe sword” and the sword in the garniture all use the same pommel and guard design and the same straight double-edged blade with blued and gilt decoration on each side and the very non- conventional tip found that starts with a very narrow point that then curves back rapidly
to full blade width. The Royal Collection Trust notes that these tips were probably copied from the bronze blade of a Halstatt sword
of Mindelheim type, and that in Napoleonic era those swords were thought to have been Roman. The sword in the garniture is slightly plainer than the “Consul” swords, which is logical as it was presented in 1797 when Napoleon was a national military hero but not yet the national leader. This sword was likely the model for the famous “Consul” swords.
General Jean-Andoche Junot

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