Apart from his size and conquest across Europe, Napoleon Bonaparte is perhaps best remembered for his signature bicorne hat. An object that just sold at Sotheby’s Paris auction house for $1.4m USD — far exceeding its estimated floor value of $587,000 USD.
A constant staple to his style, Napoleon had 120 of these felt hats made during his rule, with only roughly 20 of them remaining today. It is believed that this particular bicorne hat was worn by the emperor in the triumphant campaigns of 1807 — which ended with the “Treaty of Tilsit” — where Napoleon and Russia’s Alexander I effectively divided up the territories of Europe.
According to an interview conducted by Artnet News, Sotheby’s senior director, Thierry de Lachaise stated that after Napoleon left Dresden, his “valet gave the hat to Jean-Baptiste Kuhnel, concierge of the Bruhl-Marcolini Palace.” Years later in 1814, Scottish aristocrat, Sir Michael Shaw-Stewart, acquired the object and kept it in his family until 2015, when it sold at Christie’s for $530,000 USD.
The Sotheby’s sale, entitled “The Arts Under Influence: Napoleon,” marked the 200th anniversary of the emperor’s death and also included a number of paintings, sculptures, pistols, and jewelry. For collectors trying to get their heads under one of these hats, another one of them will go on auction next month via Bonhams.
Also in the news, a Frida Khalo self-portrait is expected to shatter multiple auction records in November.
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