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HORTENSE DE BEAUHARNAIS, QUEEN OF HOLLAND

A chased gold portrait snuff box, Adrien-Jean-Maximilien Vachette, Paris, 1789
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35

HORTENSE DE BEAUHARNAIS, QUEEN OF HOLLAND

A chased gold portrait snuff box, Adrien-Jean-Maximilien Vachette, Paris, 1789
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

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A chased gold portrait snuff box, Adrien-Jean-Maximilien Vachette, Paris, 1789
of elongated rectangular form with cut corners, the lid set with an oval miniature of Hortense, Queen of Holland, by Pauline Augustin née Du Cruet de Barailhon, after 1807, wearing 16th century costume, a gold-embroidered cerulean dress with puffed sleeves and a standing white lace collar, her head crowned with a matching cap affixed with a pearl and ruby pendant, glazed white silk backing, within a garland chased oval gold frame, the ground, sides and base chased with foliate scrolls on a matted ground, within formal roundel and laurel borders, maker's mark, charge and discharge marks of J. J. Kalendrin, date letter for 1789, with Paris petite recense and petite garantie, 1809-1819, and petite recense 1819 to 1838

PNA 1240
MN 1240
PND 55


box 2.9 x 8.5 x 4.1 cm., miniature 3 x 2.2cm.
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Provenance

Napoléon III, Emperor of the French (1808-1873);
his consort Empress Eugénie (1826-1920);
Prince Victor Napoléon (1862-1926);
Prince Louis Napoléon (1914-1997)

Literature

Related literature

Evangeline Bruce, Napoleon & Josephine, an improbable marriage, London, 1995;
Bernd Pappe, Jean-Baptiste Jacques Augustin: 1759–1832: une nouvelle excellence dans l’art du portrait en miniature, Verona, 2015

Catalogue Note

Hortense Eugénie (1783–1837), daughter of Alexandre, Vicomte de Beauharnais and his wife, née Marie Rose Josèphe de Tascher de la Pagerie, was adopted by her step-father and brother-in-law Emperor Napoléon I in 1806. Four years earlier she had married the emperor’s younger brother, Louis Bonaparte, King of Holland from 1806 to 1810. It was a dynastic union, arranged by Napoléon and Joséphine, which brought little happiness to the betrothed. In 1808, after the birth of their third child, Louis Napoléon, the future Emperor Napoleon III, they lived apart. In 1811 she bore a natural son by Auguste Charles, comte de Flahault, Charles Demorny, later created 1st duc de Morny by his half-brother, Emperor Napoléon III. Although not considered beautiful Hortense was, as Madame de Remusat noted, ‘slender as a palm tree’ (Bruce, p. 304); her charm and kindness, attributes inherited from her mother, endeared her to the court, much to the pique of her Bonaparte sisters-in-law. The duchesse d’Abrantes observed that the emperor did not ‘use indecent expressions in her presence’.

This miniature of Hortense de Beauharnais, Queen of Holland, is a variation of one by Jean Baptiste Jacques Augustin that was painted in Paris some time after 1807, when the sitter returned to the city from Holland on the grounds of ill-health. While the original portrait by Augustin is untraced today, it is known through an artist’s tracing still in the possession of his descendants (Pappe, cat. no. 1044), and by a copy made by his wife, Pauline Augustin, today in the collection of the Musée du Louvre (inv. no. RF 30660, ibid., p. 50, fig. 48). Comparison between the Louvre miniature and the present work suggest they are by the same hand, but, there are differences in scale and costume. In the former the queen is depicted half-length, wearing a dress with a rounded neckline and a hat with a peaked front and raised crown; in the latter she is portrayed bust-length, wearing a dress with a v-shaped neckline and a cap-form headdress.

Both costumes, with their standing lace collars and puffed sleeves, embody le style troubadour, a fashion that drew inspiration from late sixteenth and early seventeenth century dress. Isabey had introduced such details in his designs for the costumes worn at the coronation of Napoléon and Joséphine in December 1804, and thereafter his reinterpretations of Renaissance costume became a feature of both everyday and masquerade dress. This fashion flourished at the same time as a new category of historical painting emerged in France, le genre chevaleresque, a style inspired by contemporary romantic literature. Empress Joséphine was both a devotee of the fashion - see lot 38 - and an avid collector of the paintings, examples of which may be seen in Auguste Garnerey’s watercolour of the Music Salon at Malmaison (Musée national des Châteaux de Malmaison et Bois-Préau, inv. no. M.M.40.47.7215).

In June 1800, Madeleine Pauline Du Cruet de Barailhon (1781–1865), daughter of a secrétaire du roi aux finances, married her miniature teacher, Jean Baptiste Jacques Augustin, twenty-two years her senior. She was one of the most accomplished of his numerous pupils, collaborating with him and honing her style so precisely to his that it can be difficult at times to distinguish between the two hands.

Treasures

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