Author Topic: Hortense de Beauharnais, Napoleon's Stepdaughter  (Read 762 times)

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Offline Pellinore

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Hortense de Beauharnais, Napoleon's Stepdaughter
« on: August 30, 2015, 08:21:28 AM »
What do you think of this! A little Napoleonic medal I like because of its high relief and minuscule detailing. It was left to me in a box with a few other 19th century medals, most of these made of white metal.
It’s one of a very attractive series of princesses of Napoleon’s house commemorating their (probably fictitious) visits to the French Medal Mint.

The portrait shows Queen Hortense of the Netherlands, the wife of Louis Napoleon and stepdaughter of Napoleon. On the reverse is an ensemble of symbols of the arts that Hortense practiced: an easel with a very fine painted portrait, a sculpted head lying about, a book titled ‘Romances’ and musical instruments. Hortense de Beauharnais was a composer in her own right, the author of many popular ballads called 'Romances' in her day.

The inscriptions are in Greek: ΟΡΤΗΣΙΑ ΒΑΣΙΛΙΣΣΑ or Queen Hortense, but on the reverse it’s not so clear. It says ΤΙΜΩΣΙ ΤΙΜΩΜΕNΑΙ, something like Honor Her Who is Worthy of Honor, or: Honored, they Honor. Four letters indicating the date in Greek numerals: ΑΩIΓ = 1813, and signatures AN for Andrieu and BP (Greek!) for Brenet.

Here’s a picture from a website showing the reverse in great detail.

The medal is in pretty good condition, only a bit soiled. Diameter 23 mm, weight 6,94 gr. Almost 4 mm thick because of its high obverse relief (making it impossible to scan the obverse, hence the iphone photo). This is an early issue, for its rim doesn’t carry a mark (i.e., before 1832). Bramsen 767.
-- Paul

« Last Edit: August 30, 2015, 09:08:29 AM by Pellinore »

Offline Figleaf

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Re: Hortense de Beauharnais, Napoleon's Stepdaughter
« Reply #1 on: August 30, 2015, 10:44:38 AM »
A very interesting medal. Hortense's title of queen would date it 1806-1810 when she was between 23 and 27, compatible with the youthful portrait. Forrer probably refers to this medal in the sentence: "... the medallions representing Queen Hortense and the princess Pauline and Eliza* Bonaparte are also by (Andrieu)".

But that leaves a question. Hortense is not known to have left Holland in the period 1806-1810, while Andrieu is not known to have left Paris in the period 1786-1822. In fact, Forrer notes that he participated in the Paris Salons of 1806, 1809 and 1810. Forrer lists several medals clearly made in Paris in 1807 plus another (Visit of the emperor to Toulouse) in 1805, highly likely to be a typo for 1808. He lists six medals in the same list, three on Queen Hortense, princess Pauline and Elisa Bonaparte and another three for the same persons, visiting the "medal mint". While the place is not specified, I interpret that as the medal part of the Paris mint.**

I think it is possible to conclude that the three second-tier family ladies went to Paris in 1808 for some kind of family reunion (they came from different parts of the empire) and Andrieu grabbed the opportunity to complete his collection of family portraits, just in case. His "visits" medals fit into the "grand occasions" series, but the generic portraits are more like the kind of pieces collectors would want to "complete" the portraits of the family.

Peter


* Forrer uses an English spelling for the name of the French lady
** Napoleonic medals were also struck in Lyon, but that is a less obvious mint to visit.
« Last Edit: August 30, 2015, 11:23:21 AM by Figleaf »
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.

Offline Pellinore

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Hortense de Beauharnais, Napoleon's Stepdaughter
« Reply #2 on: August 30, 2015, 11:39:19 AM »
Well, yesterday I didn't know anyhing about medals like this, but this morning (waking up early) I spent some hours searching on the internet.

Bramsen and others say it dates from 1808, but the year on the coin is 1813 in Greek numerals, quite clearly. And here I saw a remark by David H. Block that the visits of the princesses "apparently never took place".

Technically, Hortense in 1813 was not a queen of Holland anymore. But the coin doesn't say "Queen of the Netherlands", just Queen, and that is the highest title she attained. So I can imagine why the word Basilissa is there.
-- Paul

Offline sisifos

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Re: Hortense de Beauharnais, Napoleon's Stepdaughter
« Reply #3 on: April 29, 2021, 11:03:13 AM »
My lovely pair i want to share with you !!!
www.imgur.com/gallery/UfXLMIW
« Last Edit: April 29, 2021, 11:57:18 AM by Figleaf »

Offline Figleaf

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Re: Hortense de Beauharnais, Napoleon's Stepdaughter
« Reply #4 on: April 29, 2021, 12:14:50 PM »
Thank you, sisifos. That reminds me that there are elements we haven't identified yet: the bracelet-like object hanging from the top of the easel, the thingy sticking out from below the ROMANCES book and on the other side the AM or AN (Andrieu again?) monogram.

Peter
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.