This cocked hat is unique in North America because of its provenance. Of the 160 to 170 hats made for Napoleon from the Consulate period to the fall of the Empire, only about twenty are extant and held in public or private collections. This is one of the two cocked hats worn by Napoleon during the Russian campaign. The Musée de l’Armée in Paris has the second one. The hat is noteworthy for its double silk lining, specifically designed for the Russian winter.
Authenticated by the handwritten document beside it and displayed in its contemporary cardboard box, the hat was initially preserved by Jacques Dulud and his wife Marie-Louise Vallerand, launderers to the Emperor’s household. The hat is the exact image of those worn by Napoleon, ordered from the hatters Poupard and Delaunay: it has two points, is made of thin felt and adorned with a small tricolour cockade. In order to be easily recognizable on the battlefield, Napoleon wore his hat “broadside on”, the brim aligned with his shoulders, whereas his officers wore theirs “fore and aft”, the other way round. The cocked hat became the Emperor’s principal attribute in the collective imagination.