HENRI AUGUSTE (1759-1816)
The son of distinguished goldsmith and bronzier-ciseleur Robert-Joseph Auguste, Henri Auguste was admitted as a master in Paris April 13, 1785, becoming the royal goldsmith to Louis XVI in the late 1780s. Auguste enjoyed a prosperous career, titling himself as ‘Auguste Fils Orfèvre du Roi,’ which continued after the revolution despite his royal association. Following the establishment of the Empire, Auguste carried out numerous commissions for the City of Paris including the Grand Vermeil service presented to Emperor Napoleon, much of which is now in the Musée National des Châteaux Malmaison. Auguste was additionally awarded a Gold Medal at the 1802 Industrial Exhibition, and created the gold crown for Napoleon’s coronation as Emperor in 1804 in collaboration with jeweler Aubert. Auguste’s fortunes changed shortly after this, though, and by 1806 he had amassed debts exceeding 1.3 million francs. Though he was allowed by creditors eight years to reorder his affairs, he was caught in Dieppe in 1809 attempting to sail to England under a false name with his stock and valuables. Auguste was declared fraudulently bankrupt and sentenced to six years in jail, and then died in Port-au-Prince in September 1816.
THE DUKES OF CAMIÑA
The engraved coat-of-arms is that of the Dukes of Camiña, likely for Luis Fernández de Córdoba, 13th Duke of Medinaceli and 7th Duke of Camiña (1749–1806). The title originated in Portugal in the 16th Century, but only lasted two generations before the 2nd Duke of Caminha was executed for treason in 1641. The title was then granted in 1660 to Beatrice de Menezes, the younger sister of the 2nd Duke who was married to the Spanish Count of Medellin, by King Philip IV of Spain for her loyalty to the Spanish Habsburg crown, hence the later Spanish spelling of Camiña.