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A GIFT FOR A YOUNG PRINCE

A Neapolitan deluxe Glaive for a senior Naval Officer, Royal Neapolitan Manufactory, circa 1806-15
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58

A GIFT FOR A YOUNG PRINCE

A Neapolitan deluxe Glaive for a senior Naval Officer, Royal Neapolitan Manufactory, circa 1806-15
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Treasures

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London

A Neapolitan deluxe Glaive for a senior Naval Officer, Royal Neapolitan Manufactory, circa 1806-15
with straight double-edged ‘deluxe’ blade etched in imitation of watered steel, formed with a pair of slender full-length fullers on each face and tapering two a sharp point, gilt-brass hilt comprising a pair of straight quillons cast with foliage and with lion mask terminals, shield-shaped langets cast with a profile bust of King Joachim Murat on the front and the Imperial Eagle on the reverse, tall pommel cast with a fouled anchor crossed by a pair of cannon, a lion rampant, and two further devices finely engraved grip formed of four gilt-bras panels engraved with delicate neoclassical scrolls and foliage at the front and a trellis design at the reverse, the centre of each face with an engraved mother-of-pearl plaque enclosed by minute faceted beads in imitation of brilliants, the junctions of the quillon terminals, grip and pommel all encrusted with minute beads en suite, matching faceted steel pommel button, in its original green fabric-covered wooden scabbard (areas of wear), with gilt-brass mounts comprising locket, middle-band and chape all encrusted with beads and engraved en suite with the grip, chape with two looped drag terminals (the third missing), and the locket with two small loops for suspension and inscribed ‘Mfre Rle di Napoli’ for the Royal Neapolitan Manufactory above an exotic bird issuant surrounded by fruit, flowers and foliage
42.2 cm; 16 5/8 in blade
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Provenance

By family tradition a gift from Joachim Murat to his nephew, Napoleon Charles Bonaparte, Prince Royal of Holland who died in infancy (10th October 1802-5th May 1807)
Louis, King of Holland (1778-1846)
Napoleon III (1808-1873)
Empress Eugenie (1826-1920)
Prince Victor Napoleon, Napoleon V (1862-1926)
Prince Louis Napoleon (1914-1997)

Catalogue Note

It has long been held in the family that the current glaive was a gift to the young Prince Royal of Holland, Napoleon Charles Bonaparte by Joachim Murat, his uncle through marriage and one of Napoleon I's most favoured officers. Indeed at the time of the young Prince's birth Napoleon was without heir and he was considered a potential heir and as such it may have made an appropriate gift from his military-minded uncle. Indeed Murat's own son is pictured aged just nine years old in a naval uniform in the famous painting by Louis Ducis of Napoleon and his nephews and nieces on the terrace at Saint Cloud in the collections at Versailles.

Murat was responsible for reviving the Neapolitan naval construction industry following a direct order from the Emperor in 1810.  During the following years a number of new warships were completed including the 74-gun ships of the line Capri (launched 1810) and Giacchino (launched 1812), the frigates Carolina (launched 1811) and Letizia (launched 1812).  Vesuvio, an 80-gun ship, was on the stocks at the time of Murat’s fall.  The Neapolitan Navy followed the French navy fashion for their uniforms and weapons.  See Digby Smith, The Army of the Kingdom of Naples, 1806-15, Helion & Company, 2018.

The present sword is related, and perhaps inspired by, the work of  Martin Guillaume Biennais (1764–1843) who supplied the Emperor's crown and sceptre for his coronation in 1804 and the sword of Murat as King of Naples.  The latter incorporates a cameo on the langet decorated with Caroline Bonaparte as Queen and has similarly decorated quillons and pommel to the present sword.  The Biennais sword was previously in the ownership of Murat’s descendant family and on display at the Musée de L’Armée (10397 - dépôt 148).  See Napoléon et ses soldats. L'apogée de la gloire 1804-1809, Relié, 1986.

The Neapolitan Royal Manufactory was founded in 1757 by Charles VII, King of Naples, at Torre Annunziata near Naples.  The firearms and edged weapons are of a consistently high quality and during this period they show a very clear influence from contemporary French maker’s.  The use of faceted beads, as illustrated on the present sword, is a particular characteristic and is seen on a number of the most elaborate swords from there, such as that belonging to Joseph Bonaparte, presented by the Duke of Wellington to The Prince Regent in 1813, having been seized from his baggage by the British  after the battle of Vitoria in 1813.

Treasures

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