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A DARK GREEN GLASS WINE BOTTLE WITH A CROWNED 'N' ENCLOSED IN LAUREL WREATH
A DARK GREEN GLASS WINE BOTTLE WITH A CROWNED 'N' ENCLOSED IN LAUREL WREATH
A DARK GREEN GLASS WINE BOTTLE WITH A CROWNED 'N' ENCLOSED IN LAUREL WREATH
A DARK GREEN GLASS WINE BOTTLE WITH A CROWNED 'N' ENCLOSED IN LAUREL WREATH
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SIR MICHAEL SHAW STEWART'S COLLECTION A late 18th century mansion and estate located in the county of Renfrewshire in Scotland, Ardgowan House has held a most remarkable collection of Napoleonic relics. Whilst the Ardgowan estate has been owned by the Stewart family since the 15th century, the present house dates from 1797 and remains the seat of the Shaw Stewarts, whose baronetcy of Nova Scotia was conferred by King Charles II on Archibald Stewart of Blackhall in 1667. Each art collection reflects both the personality of its owner, and the historical context of the time, and this is no exception. It was formed by Michael Shaw Stewart, who, like so many young gentlemen at the time, took advantage of France’s defeat in 1814 to visit the continent. The Treaty of Fontainebleau signed on 11 April 1814 marked the immediate abdication of Napoleon and the end of the embargo on British goods known as the Continental Blockade, suddenly making it much more congenial for the British to visit Europe once more, resurrecting the tradition of The Grand Tour. Interrupting his career in politics, Shaw Stewart, then aged 27, seized the opportunity to embark on his Grand Tour without hesitation. He carefully recorded his adventures in a diary which, initially intended for his parents, provides contemporary readers with an exceptional insight in the state of Europe so soon after the first defeat of Napoleon. Shaw Stewart travelled to Germany and the Low Countries, France and Italy, where he was particularly attracted to the artistic milieu, visiting the studios of the greatest artists of the time, including those of Canova and later Thordvaldsen, to whom he returned in 1828, once he had inherited the Baronetcy from his father in 1825. In the early years of the 19th Century Europe’s eyes were fixed on Napoleon and his tumultuous rise to power which undoubtedly did not escape Shaw Stewart. So it is not surprising he seized the opportunity afforded by his travels to meet many of Napoleon’s family, including his brother Jérôme and his mother, Madame Mère, but never Napoleon himself. In 1814 he was able to purchase the hat worn by the Emperor throughout the 1807 campaign, from the Keeper of the Palace of Dresden. On his second meeting with Madame Mère, in 1816, she presented him with a full-length portrait of Napoleon by Robert Lefèvre. Shaw Stewart continued to make additional purchases throughout his life, such as the wine bottle and lock of mane from Napoleon's favourite charger, by tradition Marengo's. These later acquisitions serving to demonstrate that his fascination did not diminish over time. 'NAPOLEON'S WINE BOTTLE FROM HIS CARRIAGE AT WATERLOO' THE PROPERTY OF THE SHAW STEWART FAMILY AT ARDGOWAN HOUSE (LOTS 101-106)
A DARK GREEN GLASS WINE BOTTLE WITH A CROWNED 'N' ENCLOSED IN LAUREL WREATH

CIRCA 1810, UNOPENED AND BELIEVED TO CONTAIN WINE

Details
A DARK GREEN GLASS WINE BOTTLE WITH A CROWNED 'N' ENCLOSED IN LAUREL WREATH
CIRCA 1810, UNOPENED AND BELIEVED TO CONTAIN WINE
Original hand blown bottle with no capsule, string rim, striated long neck, widening at mid-section, with kick-in base and sharp pontil mark, the shoulder seal embossed with a crowned 'N' enclosed in laurel wreath, no label, level of liquid is 8 in. (20 cm) below base of cork, with its wicker basket
11 ¾ in. (30 cm) height
3 ½ in. (9 cm) diameter
8 in. (20 cm) ullage

The basket:
12 ¾ in. (32.5 cm) height
6 ¼ in. (16 cm) diameter
Provenance
Following the Battle of Waterloo in 1815 Napoleon's carriage was presented to the Prince Regent. It was subsequently sold by the British Government for £2,500 to William Bullock who exhibited it at his London Museum, The Egyptian Hall, in 1816.
By 1842 it was at Madame Tussaud's.
The bottle and basket were acquired by Sir Michael Shaw Stewart, 6th Baronet (1788-1836) between 1815-1836, and recorded by 1840, see below.
Thence by descent at Ardgowan House, Renfrewshire.
Literature
J. McNab, ‘Relics of Bonaparte’, Army and Navy Chronicles, and Scientific Repository, 11, 1840, p. 103, originally appeared in the Glasgow Constitutional

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Meredith Sykes
Meredith Sykes

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Lot Essay

On Sunday night, June 18th 1815, the date marking the crucial defeat of the French at Waterloo, Napoleon's military carriage was seized by the Prussian Major Von Keller. While Napoleon originally set off to escape the battle in his carriage, he found the road at Genappes completely blocked and had to abandon it, alongside the many treasures that it held, including his hat, sword, telescope and a handsome uniform inlaid with diamonds.

Shortly after the battle, the carriage was shipped to England and presented to the Prince Regent as a trophy of victory; it was then sold off by the British government for £2,500 to famous traveller, antiquarian and sculptor William Bullock, brother of the cabinet-maker George, who exhibited it in 1816 at his London Museum, the Egyptian Hall on 22 Piccadilly. The carriage aroused the curiosity of the British and the exhibition was a great success, earning Bullock some £35,000. It changed hands a few more times and was eventually bought and exhibited by Madame Tussaud’s in 1842, where it remained on display for 80 years until it was destroyed in the notorious fire of 1925.

Many images and documentation about the carriage have been lost, however a detailed description, transcribed on the night of June 19, 1815, makes mentions of a bottle of wine:

“The interior of this remarkable carriage deserves particular attention, for it is adapted to the various purposes of an office, a bed room, a dressing room, a kitchen and an eating room. (…) The liquor case, like the necessaire, is made of mahogany; it contains two bottles, one of them still has the rum which was found in it at the time, the other contains some extremely fine old Malaga wine”

While the precise date at which Michael Shaw Stewart acquired this bottle is unknown, it is mentioned in an article published in the Glasgow Constitutional as early as 1840. This article, whose author is James McNab, Scottish horticulturist and principal gardener of the Royal Botanic Gardens of Edinburgh from 1849, relates a visit at Ardgowan House:

“…within three or four miles of the spot where they [the visitors of the area] are somnambulating, there is a most splendid portrait of Napoleon Bonaparte, for which £3,000 has been refused, – as also a bottle of wine, undrawn, taken from his carriage at Waterloo (…). The bottle of wine is contained in a wicker basket. On the side of the bottle, surrounded by a device, there is the letter ‘N’.”

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