The young lieutenant Bonaparte met Caroline’s family when he was stationed in Valence visiting their country estate at Basseaux. He became acquainted with Caroline and her sister Marie Madeleine and on one occasion he went out early on a summer morning with Caroline to pick cherries.
The excursion held such fond memories for him that on a later occasion he presented Caroline with a box containing this gold ring. The minutely detailed ivory scene under the glass shows people harvesting cherries including one man climbing up a tree to pick the fruit, set against a classical building.
Caroline continued a lengthy correspondence with Napoleon. Even towards the end of his life in exile on Saint Helena, he still recalled their early morning excursion as a time of innocent happiness.
The ring has remained in the family passing down through the descendents of Caroline (who became Madame de Bressieux on her marriage). It will be offered for sale at Osenat’s dedicated Empire à Fontainebleau auction on March 26 with an estimate of €10,000-15,000
Almost four years ago, the same auction room sold the engagement ring given by Napoleon to his future wife Josephine for a €730,000 plus premium.