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Currently shown

Lock of Napoleon’s Hair in a Medallion

Location

FRANCE

Title

Lock of Napoleon’s Hair in a Medallion

Date

About 1821

Materials

Hair, velvet, silk, cardboard

Dimensions

11 x 8 x 1 cm

Credits

Ben Weider Collection, inv. 2008.406

Collection

Decorative Arts and Design

Authenticated locks of Napoleon’s hair, like these, are undoubtedly the most valuable relics a collector could hope to find. At his death in 1821 a few of his followers were gathered at the bedside. Before disposing of his belongings, they attended to his body. In his will Napoleon had written that “Marchand will keep my hair and will have bracelets made of it with small gold chains to be sent to the Empress Marie-Louise, my mother and each of my brothers and sisters, nephews and nieces, the Cardinal, and a larger one for my son.” This lock was owned by the Romantic writer George Sand. On the envelope holding the lock is an inscription in Sand’s writing, the single word “Napoleon.” The novelist may have obtained this relic through the brother-in-law of Grand Marshal Bertrand, whom she knew, or through Jules Boucoiran, who tutored Bertrand’s children and later her own.

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