The Louvre could not let this remarkable plate pass by, as an essential testimony to its history and to French heritage.
Imperial Factory of Sèvres, 1808. Hard porcelain plate, the rim decorated with a frieze of swords linked by a garland of laurel flowers embellished with stars, the center decorated with an interior view showing Empress Josephine’s visit to the Victory Room at the Napoleon Museum, painted by Jean-Claude Rumeau, the back incised and painted in black with the "LL" monogram of Louis XVIII, diam. 23.5 cm/9.3 in.
Sometimes stories have happy endings, to everyone’s delight. This hard porcelain dessert plate from the Imperial Factory of Sèvres, which belonged to Napoleon I's personal service at the Tuileries, had everything it needed to end up in France's leading museum, the Louvre. In preempting it at €303,800, the institution garnered a major acquisition for its Objets d'art Department, specifying that it was made possible "thanks to support from the Heritage Fund and in consultation with other national museums holding works from the First Empire." La Gazette told the tale of this splendid commission and its subsequent history. The service was delivered on March 27, 1810, just in time for Napoleon I’s marriage to Marie-Louise. When the Empire fell, a substantial part of it went with him to St. Helena. He personally supervised the execution of the paintings, providing a list of 28 subjects designed to remind him of pleasant moments in his life. No battles, then, but French landscapes and monuments, and views of Italy, Egypt, Prussia and Austria: all countries he travelled through during his campaigns. Three of them feature the Musée du Louvre, then called the "Musée Napoléon": this view of the Victory Room (the present-day Apollo rotunda, inaugurated on October 14, 1807 to celebrate the first anniversary of the Battle of Jena, and used by Denon to display works conquered in Germany) painted in 1809 by a pupil of Jacques Louis David and Jean-Bapiste Isabey, Jean-Claude Rumeau (1777-1839); one of the Diana Room (currently unlocated); and lastly one of the entrances to the museum itself, with the arrival of a convoy of statues. Until now, the institution had only one plate in its collections: the one showing the Château de Sans-Souci. So this is prize catch indeed!