Joachim Murat and Caroline Bonaparte, King and Queen of Naples
The present timepiece was made for Caroline Bonaparte, Queen of Naples, and sold to her on 18 March 1812. Between 1808 and 1814, Caroline Bonaparte was one of Breguet's most demanding and important clients and had the privilege of receiving the very best pieces produced. When Caroline died in Florence in 1839, the clock was given to her son Lucien Murat, 3rd Prince Murat, who lived in the United States between 1825 and 1848, although it is very unlikely that the clock was transferred to the United States between 1839 and 1848. After Lucien, the clock passed on to Joachim Murat, 4th Prince Murat (1834-1901), then to his son Joachim Murat, 5th Prince Murat (1856-1932) whose wife Marie-Cécile Ney d'Elchingen then gave it to one of her grandsons, as the enclosed extract of her last will shows.
It is now offered at auction by one of the descendants of the latter.
The Murat family
The Murat family enters into the History of France with Joachim Murat (1767-1815), who was without doubt one of the greatest French cavalry commanders of all times. During the battle of Eylau in 1807, he was in command of one of the most famous cavalry charges in history, leading 12'000 men into battle. He married Caroline Bonaparte, sister of Napoleon in 1800. Commander of the cavalry of the Empire, Grand Admiral, Grand Duke of Berg, he was pronounced King of Naples in 1808. During an attempt to regain his Kingdom in 1815, he was arrested and shot.
Until the Second French Empire, the Murat family had been in exile. Lucien, the second son of Joachim Murat, lived in the United States for a long time. Over the years, members of the Murat family married into other families of the Empire and also with distinguished international families. Most notably Joachim Murat, 4th Prince Murat married one of the granddaughters of Marshal Berthier, Joachim Murat, 5th Prince Murat the great-granddaughter of Marshal Ney and Achille Murat, 2nd Prince Murat the great-grandniece of George Washington.
The Murat descendants have had distinguished careers in many aspects of life. Military; Joachim Murat, 1834-1901, was general of the Second Empire, officer of the Emperor Napoleon III, commander of the Légion d'Honneur, decorated with the military medal and many other foreign orders, and was in charge of receiving the coffin of the Imperial prince in England. Political; many were Deputy of Lot, native region of Murat and cultural; Napoleon Murat was a famous writer and film producer.
Throughout the 20th century, the Murat family has been socially very active, particularly with the famous Parisian dinners that the Princess Marie-Cécile Murat (great-granddaughter of Marshal Ney) hosted in the Hôtel Particulier on rue de Monceau.
Caroline Murat Bonaparte (1782-1839)
Caroline Bonaparte was born in Corsica and was the younger sister of Napoleon I of France. In 1793, during the French Revolution, she moved to France with her family. In Paris she fell in love with Joachim Murat, one of her brother's generals. Napoleon opposed the match but his wife Josephine convinced him to allow it and they married in 1800. They had four children, Achille(1801-1847), Letizia (1802-1859), Lucien (1803-1878) and Louise (1805-1889). Caroline became Grand Duchess of Berg and Cleves in 1806 and Queen consort of Naples in 1808 when her husband was named King of Naples by his brother-in-law.
Caroline Murat Bonaparte is regarded as Napoleon's most ambitious sister and superior in talents to all her relatives, thus could not fail to win the esteem of her brother. In 1808 when Napoleon extended his power into southern Italy and placed Caroline and Joachim Murat on its throne, Caroline was ruling as regent during her husband's absences. She is known to have shown great ability and interest in the excavations at Pompeii, and raised the social style of court life in Naples, presiding over the brilliant palaces of Portici "the Neapolitan Fontainbleau" and Caserta.
Caroline Murat Bonaparte had designs on her own children becoming Napoleon's heirs, but her plans were thwarted after the Emperor divorced Josephine and his second wife gave birth to Napoleon II.
Caroline's attachment to Joachim Murat has been distinguished alike for warmth and fidelity. Her advice always directed him for the best; and had it been uniformly followed, he might have remained on his throne. Caroline is seen as having influenced him to strive for a united Kingdom of Italy independent of Napoleon's French Empire but this attempt failed and as Napoleon was losing his throne she and her husband fled to Corsica. Returning to Italy in 1815, Joachim Murat made a final attempt to reclaim his throne and was captured and executed at Calabria. Caroline escaped with her children to Austria and died 24 years later in exile in Florence.
Property of a direct descendant of Joachim Murat and Caroline Bonaparte, King and Queen of Naples
George Daniels, The Art of Breguet, Sotheby Parke Bernet, London 1975; pp. 53, fig 49; pp.78-80; pp. 226-227, pl. 245a-b; 251-253, pl. 291a-d; 256-257, pl. 295a-c.
Sir David Salomons, Breguet (1747 - 1823), Private printing, London, 1923; pp 93-94 & illustrated 306-308.
Charles Allix, Carriage Clocks, Their History and Development, Antique Collectors Club, Woodbridge, 1974; pp. 41-54, pl. II/10, 11, 14-16.
Derek Roberts, Carriage and Other Travelling Clocks, Schiffer Publishing, Atglen, 1993; pp. 27-28; pp. 30-32, fig.2-5a-c.
Cederic Jagger, Royal Clocks, the British Monarchy and its Timekeepers 1300-1900, Robert Hale, London, 1983; pp. 180.
Giuseppe Brusa, L'arte dell' Orologeria in Europa, Bramante Editrice, 1978; pl. 752-753.
Tardy, La Pendule Française, 2ème Partie, Paris; pp. 184.
Emmanuel Breguet, Breguet - Watchmakers since 1775; pp. 146, 152, 188-9, 224-5, 228, 265-7, 338, 360.