• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 5426

    Antique Arms & Armour

    21 May 2008, London, South Kensington

  • Lot 76

    AN HISTORIC FRENCH SABRE DE RÉCOMPENSE (GLAIVE DE GÉNÉRAL, RÉGLEMENT DU 20 THERMIDOR AN VI), PRESENTED BY BONAPARTE IER CONSUL TO GÉNÉRAL DE BRIGADE JEAN-BARTHÉLEMY-CLAUDE-TOUSSAINT D'ARMAGNAC, BY BOUTET DIRECTEUR ARTISTE, MANUFRE À VERSAILLES

    CIRCA 1802

    Price Realised  

    Estimate

    AN HISTORIC FRENCH SABRE DE RÉCOMPENSE (GLAIVE DE GÉNÉRAL, RÉGLEMENT DU 20 THERMIDOR AN VI), PRESENTED BY BONAPARTE IER CONSUL TO GÉNÉRAL DE BRIGADE JEAN-BARTHÉLEMY-CLAUDE-TOUSSAINT D'ARMAGNAC, BY BOUTET DIRECTEUR ARTISTE, MANUFRE À VERSAILLES
    CIRCA 1802
    With Klingenthal blade etched and gilt with trophies and laurel garlands on a blued panel on both sides below the hilt, and with a later inscription etched within a panel on one side at the forte, gilt-brass hilt finely cast in relief, partly in the round, comprising crosspiece formed as a pair of arrow quivers framed by a pair of bows each with grotesque head finials and loosely entwined string, with the maker's signature engraved in two parts over the undersides and with Versailles Manufactory stamps on the upper sides, Pelta-shaped langets decorated with an Egyptian crane and a Coq Gaulois respectively, the pommel formed in the manner of a flanged mace head retained by a turn-off button, and with fluted ebony grip inset front and rear with addorsed winged thunderbolts in silver and gilt-brass, in its original scabbard of blued steel with gilt edges, engraved 'No.69' below the throat, the outer face with engraved presentation inscription, and decorated with a series of gilt-bronze mounts cast in neo-Egyptian style, including a pair of winged loops for suspension (one quiver from the crosspiece detached and one bow incomplete, six silver thunderbolt inlays missing, the scabbard with scattered surface rust over much original finish).
    31in (78.7cm) blade


    Contact Client Service
    • info@christies.com

    • New York +1 212 636 2000

    • London +44 (0)20 7839 9060

    • Hong Kong +852 2760 1766

    • Shanghai +86 21 6355 1766

    The etched inscription on the blade dates from circa 1850-70 and reads: 'Bonaparte Ier Consul au Général de Brigade d'Armagnac'

    The engraved original presentation inscription on the scabbard reads: 'Bonaparte Ier Consul au Général de Brig d'Armagnac.'

    The Boutet signature is engraved in cursive letters and as such differs from the small capitals generally used on hilts of this type.

    Special Notice

    No VAT will be charged on the hammer price, but VAT at 15% will be added to the buyer's premium which is invoiced on a VAT inclusive basis.


    Provenance

    Jean-Barthélemy-Claude-Toussaint d'Armagnac (1 November 1776- 12 December 1855). D'Armagnac received the Brevet d'Honneur (or de Récompense) on 19 March 1802; the sword was presented on 29 April of that year.


    Thence by decent to the present owner.


    Baron d'Armagnac joined the 1st Batallion da la Haute-Garonne in 1791 and was appointed Captain in the same year. He saw extensive active service with the Italian army 1792-98, being present at numerous actions, captured briefly, wounded, and holding various batallion commands throughout the Italian campaign. D'Armagnac transferred to the Swiss army in 1798 and in that year was involved in the capture of the Bridge at Berne.

    D'Armagnac served throughout the Egyptian campaign, being actively engaged at the Battle of the Pyramids, 21 July 1798. He was provisionally appointed chef de brigade of the 32nd line regiment by Bonaparte on 26 July. In the following year d'Armagnac served in Syria and was seriously wounded in the head while leading the assault on the tour Carrée during the siege of Saint-Jean d'Acre. He appears to have made a quick recovery, being involved in the capture of the fort at Aboukir on 27 July.

    D'Armagnac subsequently served under the command of Général Verdier at Lesbeh and for his services he received the sabre d'Honneur. He was provisionally appointed Général de brigade on 27 April 1801, the appointment being confirmed on 30 November.

    D'Armagnac continued in the service of the Grand Armée, and was actively engaged throughout the Peninsula campaign. He retired from the army in 1831, having been made Viscount in 1822 and grand officier de la légion d'honneur in 1823. His name is included on the west side of the Arc de Triomphe.


    For commentaries on the sword type and accounts of production at the Versailles Manufactory see the following:

    Christian Ariès, Armes Blanches Militaires Français, XXI 1973, fig.3 A-C.

    Captaine Maurice Bottet, La Manufacture d'Armes de Versailles, Boutet Directeur-Artiste (reprinted after the 1903 edition), XXIX, colour illustration.

    Musee Lambinet-Versailles, La Manufacture d'armes de Versailles et Nicolas Nöel Boutet, exhibition catalogue November 1993- March 1994, p.168, No.78.