Lot 46
  • 46

A GOLD-MOUNTED LAPIS LAZULI DOUBLE PORTRAIT SNUFFBOX, PROBABLY FLORENCE, CIRCA 1810 | A gold-mounted lapis lazuli double portrait snuffbox, probably Florence, circa 1810

30,000 - 50,000 GBP
43,750 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Signées AUGUSTIN
  • gold, lapis lazuli, ivory
the lid applied with two gold-framed oval portraits of Jérôme Napoléon, King of Westphalia, and his consort Catherine, Princess of Württemberg, by Jean Baptiste Jacques Augustin, he signed Augustin; she signed [Aug]ustin and dated [18]08, he wearing the white uniform with black and gold trimming of the 1st Westphalian Line Infantry Regiment, the gold epaulettes of a colonel, and the sash, star and badge of the Legion of Honour; she wearing a white dress with gold lace and embroidery, the box composed of six panels of lapis lazuli within gold cagework mounts chased with acanthus and neo-classical foliate ornament, apparently unmarked MN 11453PNC 11


Jérôme Napoléon, King of Westphalia (1784-1860);
Prince Napoléon, 'Plon-Plon' (1822-1891);
Prince Victor Napoléon (1862-1926);
Prince Louis Napoléon (1914-1997)


Related literature:

Bernd Pappe, Jean-Baptiste Jacques Augustin: 1759–1832: une nouvelle excellence dans l’art du portrait en miniature, Verona, 2015

Catalogue Note

A similar portrait of Jérôme, but with his torso turned to the right, signed by Augustin and dated 1808, is in the Wallace Collection, London (5 x 4 cm, inv. no. M7, Pappe, cat. no. 616); an upright octagonal version of the Catherine portrait, signed and dated 1807, is in the Museo Napoleonico, Rome (5.5 x 4.5 cm, inv. no. MN 133, Pappe, cat. no. 602). Miniatures such as these, relatively small in scale and showing the sitter in state dress, were often destined to be mounted in gold presentation snuff boxes, one of the means by which a monarch could mark favour. Most typically the presentation snuff box was mounted with a single portrait, such as that with a miniature of Jérôme by Jean Baptiste Aubry in the Fondation Napoléon, Paris, (inv. no. 632), or the Napoléon I portrait snuff box in the present collection (lot 39). During the empire the snuff boxes presented by members of the Bonaparte family tended to be the work of Parisian goldsmiths. It is probable that the miniatures of Jérôme and Catherine by Augustin were mounted on this Italian gold-mounted lapis lazuli box by Jérôme's sister Elisa, while in Florence as Grand Duchess of Tuscany from 1809-1813, or after the fall of the empire, when Jérôme's family were living in exile in Italy.

Jérôme Bonaparte was born in 1784 in Ajaccio, the youngest brother of Napoléon I, Emperor of the French. He served in the French navy, and was sent to Saint-Domingue in 1801 to subdue the slave revolt in the French West Indian colony. Instead of returning directly to France, Jérôme sailed in 1803 to the United States where he fell in love with Elizabeth Patterson, a daughter of a wealthy merchant, whom he married on Christmas Eve of the same year. Napoléon I, who sought to expand his Empire by arranging marriages to the relevant European courts, did not approve of the marriage and annulled it himself in 1805. Instead, he and Empress Joséphine had chosen Catherine daughter of Frederick I, King of Württemberg, as the future spouse for Jérôme, who then obeyed his brother and was made King of Westphalia in 1807. He moved to Kassel, the Kingdom’s capital in the Northwest of Germany, where he and his queen consort lavished vast sums on stately furniture and French silver for the royal palaces. Jerôme was known as ‘König Lustik/Lustig’ (King Funny’) in Germany, mainly because he apparently only spoke three words in German: ‘Morgen wieder lustig’, ('tomorrow funny again') (Lorenz Seelig, ‘König Lustik’ im Bildnis’, Kunst und Antiquitäten, IV/July-August, 1984). His luxurious lifestyle displeased his elder brother who then refused further financial support for Jérôme. The greatest achievement of King Jérôme, however, was arguably the end of discrimination of Jews and Catholics in his Kingdom of Westphalia, which had the first constitution and parliament on German soil. When the kingdom was declared dissolved in 1813, Jérôme and Catherine fled to Italy. The Prince and Princess of Montfort – titles given in 1816 by Catherine’s father King Frederick I of Württemberg - had three children: Jérôme Napoléon Charles Bonaparte, Prince of Montfort (1814–1847); Napoléon Joseph Charles Paul Bonaparte (1822–1891), known as Prince Napoléon or ‘Plon-Plon’; and Princess Mathilde Bonaparte (see lot 61). In 1850, Jérôme was appointed a Marshal of France and served as President of the Senate; he died in 1860 in Villegenis in France.