While hunting was his principal private recreation, unrest and revolution were the public manifestations of Louis’ reign.
Both elements were united in a fine-quality game gun made by Jean Le Page that was sold for €80,000 (£61,540) by Osenat (20/13% buyer’s premium) in Fontainebleau on July 1 as part of its L’Empire à Fontainebleau sale.
These auctions bring together all manner of items linked to Napoleon at the height of his power and the gun that topped this sale came directly into the emperor’s possession from one of the hunting lodges of Louis XVI.
Its royal origins were still evident in its overall quality: a finely carved full stock, chiselled decoration on the lock plate and cock, and most obvious of all, incised fleurs de lys among the decorative elements on the barrel.
Interestingly, these royal insignia were not removed when the gun went back to Le Page for recycling under Napoleon when the former royal gunmaker added his signature Le Page Arqer de l’Empereur to the lock plate.
At the same time he added Napoleon’s imprimatur in the form of a capital N beneath an imperial crown and ribbons in silver let into the stock. A more subtle reminder of the change of ownership was the repeat pattern of symbolic bees decorating the surround to the padded cheek-piece.
This weapon also had a long provenance, having been handed down through generations of the Le Page family.