Imperial Gold Leaf 

On 21 November 2017, by Sophie Reyssat
Martin Guillaume Biennais (1764-1843), gold laurel leaf from the crown worn by Emperor Napoleon I at his coronation, with wavy edges and finely chiselled veins, 1804, 9.2 x 2.5 cm, net weight: 10 g. Presented in a red morocco leather case tooled with gold palmette friezes, tracery, stars and suns, signed “biennais au singe violet rue s.honore n° 511” in gold.
Result: €625,000

The hopes raised by the new Imperial sale were not disappointed. Three years ago, at the same time of year, the hammer fell at €1.5 M on Napoleon's hat, bought by the CEO of the South Korean Harim Group. This time, the gold leaf from the crown worn by the Emperor at his coronation, which had remained in the family of its goldsmith, Biennais, inspired a battle well above its high estimate of €150,000, and was carried off to great applause by two young collectors from Beijing for €625,000! Meanwhile, the Louvre set its sights on another masterpiece by Biennais for €58,750: a three-tier chest containing around fifty accessories ranging from a bootjack to a tongue scraper: a genuine showcase for the goldsmith's skills.

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