Saturday, 23 November 2019

More Royal memorabilia under the hammer

OSENAT, "Royauté à Versailles", Saturday 23rd November 2019, Versailles, Hôtel des ventes du Château

Dominique Bonnet, "Un os et une mèche de cheveux de Louis XVI en vente à Versailles", Paris Match, 21.11.2019

Here is yet another auction of royal/18th-century memorabilia, which takes place today (23rd November) at the new Versailles premises of the auction house Osenat. 

Of the 200 or so lots, the one  which has attracted most attention is this little bronze sacrophagus containing a lock of hair and a scrap of bone from the "Martyr King Louis XVI" (Lot 50). It dates from the early 19th century and the only provenance given is the "grand collection of a learned and passionate amateur".(estimate: 6,000-8,000 €)  I am not sure it is really that interesting  (though I wonder how they came by the bone, if it is real...)

Other noteworthy lots include a fine version of Rigaud's famous portrait of Louis XIV and autographed letter from Madame de Pompadour.

Here are a few of the other items on offer.


Lots 1-11 comprise finely bound books, bearing the coats-of-arms of various notables, including Marie Leszczynska, Cardinal de La Rochefoucauld, Miromesnil,  Marie-Antoinette and  Madame Élisabeth.   The Marie-Antoinette book is from the library of the  château de Broglie, once belonged to Madame de Staël.

Lot 2: Book bearing the arms of the princess Élisabeth.

"According to the archaeologist and naturalist Aubin-Louis Millin in 1792, this princess possessed, after that of Marie-Antoinette, the most important library at the Tuileries, under the guard of her librarian Le Roux, who succeeded Chamfort.  She had another, more modest library in her house at Montreuil.  Her books generally bear the arms of France, but a few, like this one, have the arms of her father the Dauphin who died in 1765.... The library was confiscated in 1792 on the order of the Convention, and the majority of the books transferred to the Bibliothèque nationale under the supervision of Millin, the conservator". See:
L'intermédiaire des chercheurs et curieux, no.1506 vol.LXXX, p.99 (1919)


There are a whole host of noteworthy signatures : Louis XV, Madame du Barry,  Madame Adélaïde, the marquis de Bouillé, the prince de Condé, Madame du Barry.  The most expensive...?
La Pompadour (800-1,000 €)     
Louis XV (1,000-1,500 €)   This is an nice letter of 1744 to Madame Adélaïde, which ends "Adieu, chère fille.  Je vous aime,et embrasse de tous mon coeur"
Maurice de Saxe (2,500-3,000  )  Presumably of interest to military collectors?

Lot 14: Autograph of Marie-Antoinette's courageous defence lawyer Claude-François Chauveau-Lagarde.
Yours for a mere  150-200 €

Revolutionary items 

As an 18th-century wallpaper aficionado, Lot 70 caught my eye. It is a sizeable fragment  (92.5 cm x 83 cm)  painted paper said to have adorned the walls of the Revolutionary Tribunal at the height of the Terror (estimate:4,000-5,000 )  A similar piece was sold by Piasa in 2005.

I am not sure how certain this provenance really is. The same design in the National Archive collection is said to have hung in the salle de réunion of the Committee of Public Safety.  A note from the Carnavalet  on a similar  fragment specifies that it came from the  Réveillon factory and was was put up in 1790 "chez le duc de Mortemart, 88 rue de l'Isle".  See the discussion and pictures on the Marie-Antoinette forum:

Souvenirs of the War in the Vendée

There is a whole set of lots - pictures, engravings, small items - which relate to the conflict in the Vendée. Not much in material terms survives from these bloody times.  The most substantial personal item is a waistcoat (Lot 96: "Gilet chouan", estimate 2,500-3,500 €)  Many of smaller objects are movingly pathetic: sacred-heart scapulars, buttons and pins, an engraved drinking gourd. If you do want something more substantial, though,  you can pick up eight vicious looking scythes, said to have been used as weapons by the rural insurgents.  

I thought this was an interesting lot:  it is a promissory note for 10 livres for items furnished to the rebel army,  signed by Soufflet, redeemable "at the peace":