TRAVEL NECESSAIRE OF ALEXANDRE EDMOND DE TALLEYRAND-PÉRIGORD (1813-1898), MARQUIS OF TALLEYRAND-PERIGORD, DUKE OF DINO
While in Berlin in 1807 for an unofficial diplomatic mission requested by Napoleon, Charles-Maurice de Talleyrand took advantage of his influence on Tsar Alexander I to convince the rich Duchess of Courande to marry her younger daughter, Dorothée de Brion, with his nephew Alexandre Edmond. This unhappy union lasted only few years and the disillusioned bride turned into a restless seductress, giving birth to three illegitimate girls, in addition to their three legitimate children. Soon after her marriage, she had already started a long-lasting love affair with her charismatic uncle-in-law and followed on him on many of his official journeys. In 1820, Dorothée joined Talleyrand as he left Paris to settle permanently in his castle of Valençay. She was then pregnant with a third child of whom the diplomat could be the father.
Alexandre Edmond Fils was a pupil of the naval school in 1827 and appointed Captain of frigate in 1833 but resigned from the Navy two years later. He then worked for several European courts before joining the Foreign Legion in 1855. He settled in Florence and married Valentine de Sainte-Aldegonde, the mother of his five children. It is probable that this luxurious travel kit was ordered to Aucoc in order to follow him on board the frigates he commanded. Each piece of this precious necessaire is engraved with the motto of Talleyrand-Perigord, Re que Diou (Nothing but God), which was first mentioned in the 14th century by Elie de Talleyrand-Perigord (1301-1364), Cardinal of Perigord and most influential during the papacy in Avignon.
The Aucoc factory was founded in 1821 by the goldsmith and jeweller Casimir Aucoc, his first address being 154 Rue Saint-Honoré. The factory was taken over by Jean-Baptiste Aucoc, from 1836 to 1856, and then by his son Louis who adopted the Art Nouveau style. The factory remained active until the early 1930s. In 1835, the Aucoc factory left Rue Saint-Honoré to settle down 6 Rue de la Paix : the very same address than the one engraved on the lock of the mahogany chest. It is most likely that the necessaire could date from 1835, just before Alexander Edmond left the Navy.
In 1847, Alexandre Dumas Fils immortalized the prestigious Aucoc factory in his novel, La Dame aux Camélias. As he is walking along rue Laffitte, Armand Duval reads the announcement of the auction of "furniture and lavish objects of curiosity" from the collection of a deceased person. The lots of the sale are exhibited in situ, in an apartment of the Rue d'Antin, where Armand is dazzled by the opulence of the place, especially as he enters the bathroom. Looking at the luxurious interior, he assumes that this flat and its content were owned by a courtesan who had been given these refined pieces of furniture and works of art by her lovers: "On a large table, leaning against the wall, which was three feet wide and six feet long, shone all the treasures by Aucoc and Odiot. This was a magnificent collection, and all of these thousand objects much necessary to a woman of that standard, were solely in gold or silver." Armand ignored then that the flat had belonged to Marguerite Gautier, his regretted lover.
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