Prince Roland Bonaparte (1858-1924), then by descent to his daughter:
Princess Marie Bonaparte, (1882-1962) wife of Prince George of Greece & Denmark, thence by descent to their daughter:
Princess Eugénie of Greece & Denmark (died 1989).
Sold, Ribeyre Lefèvre, Geneva, June 20, 1999, lot 239
According to A. Dayot, op. cit., p. 319, these pieces formed part of the furnishings of Les Mulini, which was Napoleon's residence on the Island of Elba during his exile from May 1814 till February 1815. Dayot states that the furniture had been brought from Napoleon's sister Elisa's Palace at Piombino on the Italian coast facing Elba. This provenance was repeated in the catalogue of the Napoleon exhibition at the Grand Palais in 1869. This hypothesis would appear unlikely as these do not appear in any of the extensive documentation of Napoleon's exile on Elba and Elisa's Italian properties had already been seized by the Austrians before his exile.
Prince Roland Bonaparte, 6th Prince of Canino and Musignano, was a renowned French botanist and geographer, born in Paris on May 19th 1858 and died in Paris on April 14 1924. The grandson of Lucien Bonaparte, a brother of Emperor Napoleon, and his last male heir, he married Marie-Félix Blanc (1859-1882), daughter of François Blanc, founder of the Casino of Monte Carlo and the Société des bains de mer. Their daughter Princess Marie Bonaparte, future Princess of Greece, a writer and psychoanalyst, was a friend of Freud.
President of the Société de géographie (1910-1924) and president of the Académie des sciences in 1919, the herbaria that he assembled with over 2,500,000 specimens is now at the Université Claude Bernard in Lyon.
This pair may be attributed to Jacob-Desmalter on account of the similarities with other furniture stamped by this maker. This includes a secrétaire (exhibited Fondazione Accorsi, Turin, Gli Splendori del Bronzo, Turin, 2002, fig. 65) with identical winged female mounts to the fall-front and laurel wreaths to the base. The same winged-female mount also appears on a commode delivered by Jacob-Desmalter for the Empress' bathroom at Compiègne in 1810, (see M. Beurdeley, Jacob et son temps, Saint-Rémy, 2002, p. 104).
The palmette mounts on the bases of the top pilasters as well as the laurel wreaths can also be found on a matching commode and secrétaire stamped Jacob Frères, sold Christie's New York, May 21, 1996, lots 340 and 341 respectively.
François-Honoré-Georges Jacob (1770-1841) was the second son of the celebrated menuisier Georges Jacob. He and his brother Georges took over the direction of the family business after their father retired, becoming one of the most important suppliers of furniture to Napoleon I and Empress Josephine. The residences to which they principally delivered commissions were the Tuileries and Fontainebleau.
Pierre-Philippe Thomire (1751-1843), best known as one of the greatest fondeurs-ciseleurs and bronziers of his period, formed a partnership in 1804 with Duterme & Cie. This followed Thomire's association with Martin-Eloy Lignereux, who had established an important cabinetmaking workshop and had been in partnership with Dominique Daguerre at the time of Daguerre's death. Thomire & Duterme did supply some pieces of furniture to the Imperial court, but it is also recorded that he collaborated with Jacob-Desmalter.
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