21 November 2012
AN ILLUSTRATED HEBREW PRAYER SCROLL, Tefillah li-venei Yisrael yoshevei malekhut tsarfat, in Hebrew, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM
[Paris and Italy, probably Rome, 1810]
94 x 705mm. Illustrated at the beginning with the French Imperial Napoleonic Eagle, emblem of Napoleon Bonaparte, and at the end with the figure of Napoleon sitting at his desk flanked by two angels holding a spear in their right hand and the inscription 'Mikhael male'akh chanit ha-sar' ('Michael the angel of Napoleon's Spear'). The Archangel Michael is the traditional protector and leader of the army of God against the forces of evil: here the wish is that Michael will guard and protect Napoleon in his wars. Text in eight compartments containing a prayer issued by the Jewish leaders of the Central Consistory of Paris for all the Jews of the French Empire, to be said daily during the morning service, for the protection and well-being of the Empress and Queen Marie-Louise, wishing her and her unborn baby well during pregnancy and an easy, painless delivery (some worming and creasing, fraying to edges). On a wooden spindle.
Marie-Louise, Archduchess of Austria (1791-1847), Empress of the French and Napoleon's second wife, would eventually give birth to a son on 20 March 1811, although the pregnancy was anything but easy and painless. Napoleon was delighted that his wife survived the ordeal and said: 'I had rather never have any more children than see her suffer so much again'. The boy, Napoléon François Joseph Charles Bonaparte, was given the title King of Rome.
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