The Osenat auction house is auctioning this Sunday in Fontainebleau a sumptuous bracelet that belonged to Princess Mathilde Bonaparte, the niece of Napoleon I and a very dear cousin of Napoleon III.
It’s hard to be more imperial. Up for auction this Sunday, April 2, 2023, at Fontainebleau, the sumptuous yellow gold bracelet features a diamond-paved crowned imperial eagle at its center and a series of 20 gold bees around its edge, also set with small diamonds. . It is not surprising when we know that this jewel belonged to Princess Mathilde Bonaparte.
Niece of Napoleon I, Mathilde is the second of three children – and the only daughter – of Jérôme Bonaparte – the Emperor’s youngest brother, who was King of Westphalia – and his second wife, Princess Catherine of Württemberg. In addition to her very famous Parisian literary salon during the Second Empire, Princess Mathilde also went down in history as the first “First Lady” of the Elysées, fulfilling this role for her cousin, Louis Napoléon Bonaparte (the future Napoleon III), after the latter’s election, then still single, the president of the French Republic.
A strand of imperial hair
Estimated at 20,000 to 30,000 euros, this bracelet, which comes from the legendary Parisian jeweler Mellerio, also contains a rare souvenir. Under the medallion, protected from the inside by visible glass with an engraved N, the wick is hidden. When this jewel was first auctioned in 1904 after the death of Princess Mathilde, the hair was identified as that of Napoleon III. However, Maison Osenat points out that according to family tradition – this jewel was then in the possession of Prince Victor Napoleon and Princess Clémentine of Belgium, then in the collection of the descendants of Princess Marie-Clotilde Napoleon – they would actually be those of Emperor Napoleon I.
Among the approximately 371 items in this “Empire” sale, we must also mention this very beautiful pair of ceremonial gloves intended for Napoleon I. In fine white deerskin or goatskin, they are each embroidered with an imperial eagle, laurel branches and a crown. Attributed to Gervais Chardin, supplier to the emperor, they are estimated at €4,000 to €6,000.