Napoleonic Items

waterloo_printNapoleonic items are numerous as his influence in style, design, warfare, housing , government was one of the most far reaching in history. Relics and examples of this period are still in existence both in protected environments and freely to be had in  unexpected of places.  In Belgium where The Battle of Waterloo took place, artists, both obsure and well known in their  time,  for generations during and since 1815, have produced a plethora of printed matter, busts in marble and prized minature paintings in ornate frames by and since. There remains also an abundance of ‘militaria’ related to this era still attainable to avid collectors.
bonheurMuseums are of course  key places to familiarize oneself with the numerous items which fall under Napoleon related artifacts and collectibles not just in Belgium but also in the areas dominated during his reign now under more modern names as Poland, Russia, Malta, Corsica, Italyand more.  Napoleon was fascinated with Egypt and much of her symbolism is found in furniture of the Napoleonic era.  Furniture is often embellished in metal ornamentation called ‘ormalu’. 

To see excellent examples of a broad range of Napoleonic collectibles and antiques, old catalogs from established auction houses provide the best illustration. Price and popularity are parabolic but this is the case with many antiques whose popularity is never completely obscure.  Some of the finest examples can be seen in The Louvre but also in the Hotel de Ville de Paris, located in the Marais Quarter. Admission into the collection of French historical items is free and definitely worth a visit.

One of the most famous love stories is that of Napoleon and Josephine. His communication and lavish gifts to her remain key to  literature and media that has entertained the masses since its existence. Beautiful one of a kind items commissioned for an empress have since never been equalled. Some are so elaborate that exact duplication in today’s market and with current materials and skill levels would be prohibitive such as certain items  from the Russian House of Faberge, private commissioned one-of-a-kind furnitures, textiles, writing instruments if precious metals.bound books and inscribed items for the boudoir.

Still if one is situated in Belgium, it pays to keep an eye out for older prints. Finely details lithographs and engravings, miniatures are scarce but available for the discerning collector of historically significant items and depending on their condition, command a  fair price and are highly decorative as well as excellent examples of souvenirs of one’s posting. Look out for ‘foxing’ or the little brown dots that indicate too much moisture has weakened the support on which the image was produced, usually a thin paper. These should never be drymounted in modern framing methods, but conserved by hinging them allowing them to have air to breathe underneath protective matting . A properly framed print under glass and with tight seal on the back should last for as long as any properly cared for work of art. Even watercolors, known for fragility and light permanency, have examples in the correct conditions of lasting over 28,000 years. That’s a birthday to celebrate!


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