Case of four pistols belonging to Napoleon Ist

This set was probably Napoleon's favourite. He called them "my Versailles pistols", in the same way as he called the sword he wore at Austerlitz "my sword". He kept them with him during his exile on Saint Helena and left him to his son in his will.

About the work

Case with two pairs of pistols belonging to Napoleon Bonaparte, made by Nicolas Noël-Boutet
© Paris - Musée de l'Armée, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Pascal Segrette

 

Army knives and firearms were often given to deserving officers for services in action or to heads of state as a diplomatic gift. Pistols were presented in a case containing all the accessories needed to take them apart and clean them, as well as the bullet mould.

 

 

 

 

Two pistols belonging to Napoleon Bonaparte, made by Nicolas Noël-Boutet
© Paris - Musée de l'Armée, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Emilie Cambier

These particularly opulent weapons were made by Nicolas Noël-Boutet, the director of the Manufacture de Versailles, which was then the most prestigious luxury arms-maker in Europe.

 

 

Pistol belonging to Napoleon Bonaparte, by Nicolas Noël-Boutet
© Paris - Musée de l'Armée, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Emilie Cambier

But are they really weapons? Boutet, who often signed his work "Boutet, artistic director", took little interest in technical matters. His unrivalled excellence was based not only on originality in shape and design, where nothing was left to chance, but also on his mastery in fitting together the precious metal plates, which helps make these objects, with their rich, varied ornamentation, real works of art. He can be considered as the founder of a new aesthetic standard in weaponry.

 

A detail of the case with two pairs of pistols belonging to Napoleon Bonaparte, made by Nicolas Noël-Boutet (1761-1833)
© Paris - Musée de l'Armée, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Pascal Segrette

 

Label

 


Date : Circa 1805

Inventory no. : Ca 19

Author : Nicolas Noël-Boutet, Manufacture de Versailles

Techniques : Sculpted wood, assembly and plating of chased and gilded precious metals

Materials : Walnut, steel, gold, silver, ivory

History : Donation from the Ministry of Fine Arts 1897