Wednesday, 5 January 2022

Gold leaf from Napoleon's crown makes €625,000

A golden laurel leaf from Napoleon's crown went under the hammer in 2017. Napoleon crowned himself emperor at the Notre Dame cathedral in Paris in 1804, famously taking the Roman-style laurel wreath and putting it on his own head, instead of letting Pope Pius VII do the honors. At a fitting for the crown leading up to the spectacular event, Napoleon had complained that it was too heavy. So goldsmith Martin-Guillaume Biennais took six leaves out of the crown, later giving one to each of his six daughters. The original wreath was melted down after Napoleon's fall in the wake of the Battle of Waterloo.

The crown, modelled on the one worn by the ancient Roman caesars, is the centerpiece of Jacques-Louis David's monumental painting, "The Coronation of Napoleon" at the Louvre.
The crown Napoleon wore at his coronation had 44 large gold laurel leaves and 12 smaller ones. It cost him 8,000 francs, with the box it was stored in setting him back a further 1,300 francs.