PARIS - The sale of the Collections of Marshal Berthier has given me the chance to see two of the finest ceremonial sabres I have ever had the privilege to handle, and whose prestigious provenance added to the pleasure I had in examining them. Both were commissioned by King Joachim Murat from the celebrated sword factory in Naples, and later came into the possession of Marshal Berthier’s granddaughter, Malcy Louise Caroline Berthier de Wagram, wife of the 4th Prince Murat.


Highly decorated Ceremonial sword belonging to Joachim Murat, King of Naples. Estimate €200,000-250,000.

The sabres are profusely but elegantly decorated, and reflect the vibrant image of the man who commissioned them. Murat was an exuberant personality, whose love of plumed hats and fancy clothes is said to have prompted rebuke from Napoleon himself. Even so, his taste for luxury contributed, amongst other things, to the design of these two exceptional ceremonial sabres – or should I say these two exceptional works of art.


Highly decorated Ceremonial sword belonging to Joachim Murat, King of Naples. Estimate €200,000-250,000.

They are sure to appeal to collectors and connoisseurs of unique, top-quality objects, and boast a host of breathtaking details. They mobilized an army of craftsmen, rather than affronting soldiers on the field of battle: over fifteen workmen – blacksmiths, chasers, sculptors, casters, gilders, engravers, polishers – were involved in producing these decorative weapons. A mere pommel required the expert input of five different craftsmen! To my mind, these sabres are works of supreme-precision jewellery, and among the most sumptuous Napoleonic sabres ever made. They are priceless works of art.

The Collections of Marshal Berthier, Prince of Wagram
Viewing:    Thursday 24-Monday 28 April
Auction:    Tuesday 29 April at 10:30 am & 2:30 pm