An outstanding group of about 30 lots presented by the Crédit Municipal de Bordeaux will conjure up the emperor’s memory.
1807–1810. Porcelain dish from a 72-piece service called "Quartiers généraux", commissioned by Napoleon I from the Sèvres Royal Manufactory, diam. 23.5 cm/9.25 in (detail).
Jewelry and porcelain will stand out in this group, especially the ring of Queen Hortense (1783-1837), Josephine’s daughter, Napoleon I’s daughter-in-law and King Louis Bonaparte of Holland’s wife. Made in 1810, its "H" adorned with diamonds and blue enamel will surely attract attention (€35,000/40,000). A Sèvres dish from one of the emperor’s largest porcelain commissions, the "Quartiers généraux" service, will make an impression due to its unique decoration and provenance. Made up of 72 dessert dishes, the service was actually part of a larger one, the "service particulier" made for Napoleon in October 1807 to replace the previous two that graced the imperial table—the "olympique" and the "zones d'or" services, which he gave to the czar of Russia and the Caulaincourt embassy in Russia, respectively. He commissioned the Sèvres Manufactory to make over 200 pieces divided into four groups: a first-course service, a dessert service, a centerpiece in biscuit and a tray, all for the sum of 65,449 francs. Napoleon was particularly fond of this set, which he brought with him into exile on Saint Helena.
Each dish features a different décor based on the themes of Napoleon’s great military campaigns, imperial residences and major public works, including 28 that were undertaken by the emperor himself. Alexandre Brongniart—the head of the Sèvres workshop—and Vivant Denon designed the decoration, which was painted by different artists. Jacques Swebach-Desfontaines, assisted by Nicolas-Antoine Lebel and Jean-François Robert, painted 27 pieces, including ours. This porcelain depicts the army at Mont Saint-Bernard on the occasion of the funeral of General Desaix, who died heroically at the Battle of Marengo on June 14, 1800. Some of the soldiers are seen sledding, others skiing. The service was delivered in March 1810, just in time for the wedding of Napoleon and Marie-Louise.