Thursday, August 13, 2015

Pipe, tobacco and snuff under Napoléon

in 1800, as Napoléon Bonaparte rose in power and fame in France, pipe smoking was accepted if not encouraged behavior in the French armies.

From the grenadier level,

"Grognard fumant la pipe", par Charlet.

to generals such as Lasalle (10 May 1775, Metz – 6 July 1809, Wagram),

Général Antoine de Lasalle receiving the capitulation of the garnison of Stettin, 30 octobre 1806
Lasalle was killed on 6 july 1809 at the Wagram battle.
"The général de division Lasalle was killed by bullit. He was an officer of the highest merit and one of our best cavalry generals."  Napoléon.

who carried his pipe on the battlefield,

A detail of the above painting showing a meerschaum pipe with silver wind-cap, a pipe cloth for smoking and a gold embroidered red velvet carrying pouch.

whose well-smoked pipe can be seen at the Musée de la Grande Armée in Paris
One of Lasalle's Pipes . Musée de la Grande Armée, Paris
or general Kléber (9 March 1753 – 14 June 1800),

 General Kléber, by Jean-Urbain Guérin, Nationalmuseum, Stockholm

whose porcelain pipe is preserved at the Arts Décoratifs Museum in Strasbourg

Kléber's Pipe, Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Strasbourg, France

to general Rapp (27 April 1771 – 8 November 1821)

whose pipe is preserved in the Musée de l'Armée in Paris,


or general Oudinot, who suffered 32 injuries in battle, and to whom Bonaparte offered a meerschaum pipe described as "a mortar on its base", later engraved by Oudinot of a quote by Napoléon "Tell Oudinot that wherever he is, he need only fear himself".

Bonaparte, First Consul, by Ingres.

Bonaparte himself preferred to snuff tobacco. Records from his suppliers show that 
he would receive regular and sizable supply of his favorite grated tobacco in enameled stoneware

and he favored for his own use tortoise shell snuff-boxes doubled in gold, with antique medals or famous ancestors as inserts.

In June 1798, Bonaparte led an expedition to Egypt to protect French trade interests, undermine Britain's access to India, and to establish scientific enterprise in the region.

He addressed the soldiers and sailors in the port of Toulon before departure:

"Soldiers! You are one of the wings of the French army. You have made war on the mountains, on the plains, and in cities; it remains for you to fight on the seas. The Roman legions, that you sometimes imitated but no longer equalled, fought Carthage now on this same sea and now on the plains of Zama."

Napoleon enters Alexandria on 3 July 1798 by Guillaume-François Colson, 1800

On 23 August 1799, he returned to France having left general Kléber in charge, and with him came back the scholars who had studied and documented many aspects of Egyptian culture, including the common use of pipes.

Pipes available in Rosetta during the French occupation of Egypt (1798-1801) (État Moderne 1817 Tome Second, II.ème Partie: Planche ii drawn by the architect of the King Cécile)

Back in Paris, Bonaparte would personally set a budget for snuff boxes depending on the rank of the recipient. For ambassadors the budget was 15,000 francs, for plenipotentiaries 8,000 francs and 5,000 francs for businessmen.

Breaking that budget was a gold snuff box ornamented with diamonds for the sum of 18,660 francs, a present to the plenipotentiary representative of the King of the Two Sicilies in celebration for the treaty of peace concluded between the French Republic and the King of Naples.

On 2 December 1804, he crowned himself Napoléon I, Emperor of the French.

Le Sacre de Napoléon by Jean-Louis David 1806-1807

For the occasion, Napoléon wore a crown of laurels made of gold.

In 1807, Saint-Claude produced turned stems which were sold all over France and neighboring countries. Wood and porcelain pipe bowls for the most part were imported from other countries, such as Ulmers and porcelains from Germany.

Courtesy David Jeantet
On 10 April 1809, Napoléon led the army against the Austrian forces. 

"At war, his snuff boxes closely followed, a total of ten, of oval shape with small antique medals on the cover, always filled and which he would refill as soon as one of them was empty. The idea of using his tobacco any other way would have been appalling to him." (Isabey, Mémoires)

French cuirassiers cheering while charging past Napoleon at the Battle of Wagram.

After decisive victory by the French forces at Wagram, Austria asked for an armistice and agreed to sign the Treaty of Schönbrunn in October 1809.

On 11 March 1810, Napoléon married Marie Louise of Austria with the hopes of bringing stability to his Empire and of a male heir to secure his dynasty.

Marie-Louise in 1810

That same month the Services of Présents received delivery of 28 snuff boxes, ornamented with diamonds, of which 25 were decorated with the Emperor's portrait, one with the "N" mark, two with the "M" mark of Marie-Louise. One single snuff box with his portrait and 32 diamonds cost 17,338 francs.

On 20 March, 1811, a baby boy was born His Majesty the King of Rome.

King of Rome, Napoléon II by as an infant, by Pierre-Paul Prud'hon

Napoleon's fortunes began to change dramatically in 1812 after his failed invasion of Russia.

A visual of Napoléon's March to Moscow and subsequent retreat. 1812.

After his defeat at the Battle of Waterloo on 18 June 1815,  

"The morning after the battle of Waterloo", by John Heaviside Clark, 1816

 Napoléon I 

surrendered to the British on the Bellerophon ship,

before embarking on the Northumberland,

that would sail to the island of Saint-Hélène.

On board were Napoléon's snuff boxes, "one with Peter the Great on the cover, another with Charles le Quint, a third one with Turenne; others which he used daily were covered with medals depicting Caesar, Alexander, Sylla, Mithridate, etc. There were some boxes incrusted with diamonds with his portrait. Those he used as presents." (Comte de Las Cases, Mémorial).

Snuff Box adorned with 25 diamonds surrounding a portrait of Napoléon by Isabey, 1807

Upon his arrival in Jamestown,

he would be transferred to his final living quarters

where he spent many hours dictating letters

often in a somber mood.

Comte de Las Cases reports that, one night in Sainte-Hélène, Napoléon was coughing a lot. "I must have taken too much tobacco; I am a creature of habits,our conversation distracted me. You should, my friend, in such cases, take away my snuff-box. That's what you do for people you love". (Mémorial)

 Napoléon I died on May 5th ,1821.

Print of Napoléon on his death bed

In his will, Napoleon gave custody of his snuff boxes to his valet Marchand to be presented to his son when he turned sixteen.

In life and death, Napoléon would inspire many artists including porcelain

Napoléon with Laurel Crown, red clay pipe, signed Villers 
Courtesy Piasa-Mazaleyrat Collection

Death Portrait of Napoléon Courtesy Arnaud Thomasson/Collection Mazaleyrat

and clay pipe makers.

No 850, Sainte- Hélène by Gambier. Courtesy Arnaud Thomasson/Collection Mazaleyrat