A Louis XVI Dress Smallsword and Scabbard, Mounted in Gold and Diamonds, c. 1784

2099 15

Item ref: 2099

  • France
  • Gold, steel, enamel, diamonds, wood, fishskin
  • 98.4 cm / 38¾ in

Provenance:

The Princes Hohenzollern
Dietrich Stürken Collection

Literature: 
Pierre Jarlier, Répertoire d’arquebusiers et de fourbisseurs français, together with 2e supplement,  Saint-Julien-du-Sault 1976, p.123, and 1981, p.31
Patrick Lamoureux “Les armes de luxe”, in La Manufacture d’armes de Versailles et Nicolas Noël Boutet, Musée Lambinet, Paris 1993; see pp. 170, 172-3, nos. 83 and 84 for Napoleon’s épée du Sacre
A.V.B. Norman, The Rapier and Small-Sword 1460-1820, London 1980; see p.340 for Charles X’s sword
Dietrich Stürken, “Swords of Honour”, Bulletin of the Portuguese Academy of Antique Arms, vol. 2, no. I, May 2001

By repute, our sword has a significant connection with France through the Swabian line of the Hohenzollerns. Amalie Zephyrin von Salm-Kyrburg, Princess zu Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen (1760-1841), was married to Prince Anton Aloys zu Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen (1762-1831). Princess Amalie lived in Paris from 1786 until her death. Between early March to the end of July 1794 she gave protection to Eugène and Hortense de Beauharnais, the children Joséphine, Vicomtesse de Beauharnais, following the imprisonment of both parents during the “Reign of Terror”. The children’s father was guillotined on 23rd July, Joséphine was saved by the fall of Robespierre and the ending of “The Terror”. Joséphine subsequently became first the mistress of Napoleon Bonaparte and then his wife in March 1796. Hortense in turn married Louis Bonaparte, the brother of Napoleon and became the maternal grandmother of the Emperor Napoleon III. For her great service it seems entirely possible that the Princess Amalie would receive a fitting gift of recognition. It is therefore quite plausible that this is the sword of the executed Vicomte de Beauharnais, and by extension an iconic artefact of the Napoleonic line.

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