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A SET OF TWELVE FRENCH EMPIRE SILVER-GILT DINNER-PLATES FROM THE BORGHESE SERVICE
VAT rate of 5% is payable on hammer price and at 2… Read more PROPERTY FROM A SWISS PRIVATE COLLECTION (LOTS 255-263)
A SET OF TWELVE FRENCH EMPIRE SILVER-GILT DINNER-PLATES FROM THE BORGHESE SERVICE

MARK OF MARTIN-GUILLAUME BIENNAIS, PARIS, 1809-1819

Details
A SET OF TWELVE FRENCH EMPIRE SILVER-GILT DINNER-PLATES FROM THE BORGHESE SERVICE
MARK OF MARTIN-GUILLAUME BIENNAIS, PARIS, 1809-1819
Each circular and with anthemion border, engraved with a coat-of-arms below a Royal crown, nine marked near rim and further stamped 'Biennais', three marked near rim and in centre
9¼ in. (24 cm.) diam.
225 oz. 14 dwt. (7,021 gr.)
The arms are those of Borghese, for Prince Camillo Borghese (1775-1832) and his wife Pauline Bonaparte (1780-1825). (12)
Provenance
Prince Camillo Borghese, who married Pauline Bonaparte, the sister of the Emperor Napoleon on 6 November 1803.
The Borghese Palace sale, Giacomini and Capobianchi, Rome, 28 March - 9 April 1892, part of lot 847.
Don Antonio Licata.
Prince Baucina.
Ercole Canessa.
Mrs Edith Rockefeller McCormick, American Art Association/Anderson Galleries Inc., New York, 5 January 1934, one of lots 707-714.
Special notice

VAT rate of 5% is payable on hammer price and at 20% on the buyer's premium.

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Tom Johans

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Lot Essay

The Borghese Service

The magnificent Borghese Service, comprising 500 silver-gilt objects primarily by Martin-Guillaume Biennais (1764-1843) and with over 1,000 other pieces by various makers, is traditionally thought to have been a gift from Napoleon to his second sister Pauline Bonaparte (1780-1825) on the occasion of her marriage to Prince Camillo Borghese (1775-1832) on 6 November, 1803. It is now believed that most of the service postdates 1805, when Napoleon was styled King of Italy. In addition, many articles, such as the present plates, have Paris hallmarks for 1809-1819. The service was added to in the 1820's by Florentine and Roman silversmiths after original Biennais designs, see for example a coffee-pot by Pietro Paolo Spagna, Christie's London, 12 June 2002, lot 10.

Pauline Bonaparte

Pauline Bonaparte was born in 1780 in Ajaccio, Corsica, the second of Napoleon's sisters and considered the most beautiful. In 1797 she married one of her brother's staff officers, General C.-V.-E. Leclerc, and went with him to Santo Domingo. Following his early death from yellow fever, she returned to Paris, met and married Prince Borghese and moved with him to Rome. In 1804, Borghese received the title of a French Prince, and in the following years accompanied the Emperor in the Austrian and Prussian campaigns. Nonetheless, his marriage with Pauline was an unhappy one and they separated fairly quickly. Following the Treaty of Tilsit he was made Governor of Piedmont. He was paid the huge sum of one million francs which, added to his own fortune, allowed him to live in the grandest style. In the meantime his wife spent most of her time in Paris and with the fall of Napoleon in 1815 she tried to gain permission to join him in exile in Saint Helena. When this was denied she returned to Rome and took up residence in the Borghese Palace. She did however join her husband in Florence shortly before her death in 1825.

It has been suggested that Pauline Borghese was responsible for many of the later additions to the service, but it is at least as likely that Prince Borghese himself ordered the pieces. It is certainly possible that that service was split up between the Roman and Florentine residences and that both the Prince and Pauline added to it. The service remained at the Borghese Palace in Rome until it was sold in the auction of the Palace contents in 1892. The service was listed in its entirety in the auction catalogue entitled 'Catalogue des objets d'art et d'ameublement. Le grand appartement au premier étage du palais du Prince Borghese à Rome.' and was offered as a single lot.

The service appears to have subsequently changed hands at least three times before becoming part of the collection of the American, Edith Rockefeller McCormick, who exhibited the entire service from 1924-1932 at the Chicago Art Institute. On her death in 1934, the service was sold by the American Art Association/Anderson Galleries in New York where it was split into nearly 150 lots. Pieces from the service are now widely scattered, with objects in many private collections and museums.

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