A charming character

On 07 December 2019, by Anne Doridou-Heim

A pastel of a charming milliner landed a world record for a work on paper by Émile Friant.

Émile Friant (1863-1932), La Modiste (The Milliner), 1890, pastel, 63 x 46.5 cm.
Result: €324,030

Émile Friant (1863–1932), born in Nancy and a master at the École de Nancy, like his colleague Jules Bastien-Lepage, is one of the leading figures in naturalism, a large artistic movement that spread throughout Europe between 1880 and 1900. The movement sought to describe reality just as it was and not as it ought to be, choosing its subjects in day-to-day life and the working classes. This Modiste (The Milliner), artfully drawn in pastel in 1890, was bid for to the tune of €324,030, an entirely unexpected world record for a work on paper (source: Artnet) far beyond the original estimate. Friant's work wasn't done enticing bidders: his Portrait de Madame Gustave Paul (Portrait of Madame Gustave Paul) an oil on panel from 1888, went for €122,360. These paintings, as well as two others - a watercolour, Élégante au chapeau (Elegant Woman with a Hat) at €7,728, and Homme et son chat auprès du poêle (Man and His Cat by the Stove) came from the same private collection.

Napoleon puts his best foot forward at Drouot

On 10 December 2019, by Anne Doridou-Heim

These perfectly traceable boots, attributed to Napoleon I, are a size €117,2018.

Pair of boots "à l'écuyère" attributed to Emperor Napoleon I, in black morocco with low heels, lined with fine natural leather, the two bootstraps in woven grooved fabric, h. 48 cm, width (of the foot): around 26.5 cm.
Result: €117,208

The emperor wore a size 40: that much is clear from this pair of 48 cm riding boots in black morocco (given that Napoleon was 168.5 cm, the impression that he wasn't especially tall given by his full-length portraits is understandable). Their traceability goes back to General Bertrand (1773-1844), his most faithful companion, who was with him until the end in Saint Helena – one would be hard-pressed to find a more trustworthy source. As further proof of the passion these historic relics inflame, the pair of riding boots won the day at auction for €117,208. For Napoleon, it was hardly a matter of style, but rather comfort and suppleness, as he was often in the battlefield. His boot's simplicity matched that of his famous grey-serge coat. From the beginning of the Empire, he bought large quantities of shoes from Jacques, a shoemaker based in Paris's rue Montmartre, for 80 francs at the time. These particular boots were immortalised thanks to Paul Delaroche's 1840 painting, Napoleon I at Fontainebleau, painted the same year Napoleon’s ashes were returned to France, and now housed in the Musée de l’Armée in Paris. It conveys Napoleon's loneliness a mere days before his fall.

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