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Lock of Napoleon’s Hair in a Medallion




Lock of Napoleon’s Hair in a Medallion


About 1821


Hair, velvet, silk, cardboard


11 x 8 x 1 cm


Ben Weider Collection, inv. 2008.406


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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