A group of drawings and a sketchbook compiled by an artist assigned to Napoleon’s campaigns in Prussia and Poland in 1806-7 has been secured by the Louvre at a Toulouse auction.
Extracted from Antiques Trade Gazette | Anne Crane
The collection, which was discovered by auctioneer Jérôme de Colonges of the Ivoire Toulouse-Primardeco auction house, belonged to a local south-west family.
Napoleon was accompanied on the campaigns by Dominique-Vivant Denon, the French artist who had risen to become the emperor’s director of museums. Most of the drawings were executed by Benjamin Zix (1772-1811) who was recommended to Denon by the Empress Josephine and became the official artist for ‘imperial achievements’ from 1805.
Other artists whose drawings of the campaign are represented include Florent Fidèle Constant Bourgeois de Castelet; Louis-Pierre Baltard and Nicolas-Antoine Taunay.
Among the scenes depicted are the Battle of Eylau; another showing works of art being removed from the museum at Kassel in Germany and a naval meeting between Napoleon and Tsar Alexander 1 of Russia on the river Nieman on June 25 1807.
There were 28 drawings in total, offered as individual lots, plus the sketchbook which contained 25 preparatory studies for events that took place during the campaigns.
At the sale on September 25, the Louvre exercised its right of pre-emption to secure all these lots, stepping in to claim them at the fall of the hammer. The museum paid a total of €166,750/£151,590 or (€208,400 including premium) for the entire collection.