JÉRÔME NAPOLÉON, KING OF WESTPHALIA, AND HIS CONSORT CATHERINE, PRINCESS OF WÜRTTEMBERG
Bernd Pappe, Jean-Baptiste Jacques Augustin: 1759–1832: une nouvelle excellence dans l’art du portrait en miniature, Verona, 2015
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.
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