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The Napoleonic Wars 1792-1815

A Little Puzzle

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A Little Puzzle

Postby drhook59 » November 29th, 2017, 10:55 am

Dear fellow Napoleonic War veterans, this is my first post, but I hope it's not my last. I have a little puzzle for you and hope some of you may be able to help.

I bought a 'trinket' box the other day here in France - it took my fancy, not sure why, but when I got home I discovered that I may have found a little treasure from the early 1800's. In the lid is a small miniature behind a piece of handmade glass, and my further research leads me to believe that the portrait is of an officer in the Dragoons, circa the First Empire, perhaps. I believe also that he is the recipient of the Legion d'Honneur. It would appear from my research that the box is typical of that period too. It's a very lucky find, I guess!

But that's where I can't get any further. So my questions for you all are as follows:

1. Can we define this officer's uniform any further?

2. Can we identify his medals any further?

3. Can we, by some fluke, perhaps put a name to this gentleman?

4. Does anyone know who the artist might be who painted this officer's portrait? In the signature I can see F, É, L, I and perhaps an S (though it could be the left hand part of an X) - any further offers?

Image

Image

Image

I hope I have abided by all the rules and look forward to hearing any suggestions, comments, answers or argument. Thanks for reading. :D
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Re: A Little Puzzle

Postby Owen » November 29th, 2017, 5:48 pm

A very interesting piece - looks like a young Napoleon! I wonder if the medal on red ribbon could be a Knight of the Royal and Military Order of Saint Louis. I am not an expert on this, but when researching a LoH award some time ago, I came across the St. Louis honour, which effectively preceded the LoH. If it is, you might find that the French will have a list of those awarded, which could be a ‘starter for ten’.

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Re: A Little Puzzle

Postby drhook59 » November 29th, 2017, 8:48 pm

Hello Owen,

Thanks for the reply, and you have piqued my interest for sure. What makes you think it is more likely one medal than the other? Any ideas on the uniform, by any chance?

Napoleon, eh? Now that would be a fine thing.....
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Re: A Little Puzzle

Postby Andrew » November 29th, 2017, 10:46 pm

Welcome to the Forum!

I have no doubt it is a painting of Napoleon; not necessarily young, just a rather naive interpretation by a gifted amateur. The uniform does look like that of a dragoon rather than the chasseur uniform Napoleon is better known for wearing, but I put that down to interpretation rather than an attempt at absolute accuracy. I am not an expert on what decorations Napoleon routinely wore; a little research should fix that, but the two medals and the order on his chest are to be seen on many of the better known paintings of him; see Jacques-Louis David's famous Napoleon in his study at the Tuilleries, 1812.

A nice little thing, but probably not uncommon; Napoleon as a subject was very popular for many years after his death.

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Re: A Little Puzzle

Postby Josh&Historyland » November 30th, 2017, 12:40 am

I agree with the others, first thing I thought when I saw it was, Napoleon.

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Re: A Little Puzzle

Postby drhook59 » November 30th, 2017, 10:50 am

Thank you for the replies, gentlemen. I am somewhat surprised by your suggestions, to say the least :) I've been pouring all night over pictures of Napoleon and cannot find a single one that in any way resembles the face on this portrait, I must admit. In addition, the suggestion that this is Napoleon raises a couple of issues.

Would he have had this array of medals at such a young age? Even at this age he would have already appeared like the older Napoleon would look. There was nothing auburnish about him in his younger years at all, to my mind.

Why would someone wanting to put his portrait in a miniature not depict him in his pomp and glory years?

Why would a woman (the box is a feminine item) put a picture of (a) a young Napoleon on it, or (2) put Napoleon in there at all when she would quite obviously have wanted to have the face of her husband or lover on her boudoir table instead?

If we can pin down the uniform and its date can we not add a little more information to the story?

I admit perhaps I am being too pernickety, but i am genuinely curious about this little jewellery/trinket box.
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Re: A Little Puzzle

Postby Josh&Historyland » November 30th, 2017, 11:55 am

I think th face bears a passing resemblance to poor portraits of Napoleon. It's not meant to be him when he is young, as Andrew said it's naive. Actually there was a huge market for miniatures of Napoleon, and Wellington, good and bad, many of which were not painted from life but from other portraits or engravings.
I still don't think Bonaparte is meant to be young here, but recall he did become a General in his youth. We don't know the woman, assuming the owner was a woman had a husband or sweetheart, but even if she did it would be a patriotic thing to have at least one image of the emperor in her collection. Having one does not preclude another since her original jewellery collection is doubtless not broken up. But I guess the biggest indicator of subject for me is the third medal. It can only be the Grand Cross of the Legion of Honnour, put that together with the green uniform and the basic facial structure and that makes it Napoleon for me.

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Re: A Little Puzzle

Postby drhook59 » November 30th, 2017, 1:34 pm

Josh,

Thanks for your continued patience with me - I think you have convinced me with your answers to all my questions, I'll ride with what you've said, it certainly makes sense, so thank you for that. I'll try and see if I can find something more out about the artist and then call it a day.

Thanks to everyone else to for their help, much appreciated!
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