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"Captain François Louis Saint-Jacques, ordonnance officer of Napoleon I", miniature on ivory, 1814
FINAL DISCOUNT PRICE= 2700 USD
( for EUR price see date rate )
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The small travelling case presented here contains a good quality miniature on ivory with a portrait of a redingote-wearing captain (due to his epaulettes with thin fringe) of the French artillery (due to the buttons with the symbol of two crossed cannons).
The redingote alone does not allow to define his regimental or to say definitely what kind of artillery he belongs to - the "foot" or the "mounted" artillery.
The captain is decorated, among others, with the chest cross of the Royal Military Order of St. Louis and badge of the "Decoration of The Lily" introduced by Bourbons in April of 1814 - both are evidence of the period after the return of the Bourbons to France (it is either the 1st Restoration (April 1814 - March 1815) or already the 2nd Restoration (after Napoleon's "100 Days"; June 1815 - July 1830).
The third badge on the sitter's chest is a cross of the Order of Legion of Honor. Strangely, it is a silver (!) Chevalier cross, but with the ribbon (provided with a bow!) of an Officer's cross (the latter should have been gold!).
The only explanation for this fact is that the sitter was initially depicted with the Chevalier crosses of both orders - St. Louis and Legion of Honor - and after being awarded the rank of Officer of the Legion, another artist painted the "Officer's" bow on the ribbon.
Based on the sitter's hairstyle, which resembles that of the "Ancien Regime" (the sitter obviously wanted to emphasize his attachment to the restored royal power by his whole appearance - he preferred to powder his hair, like the aristocrats of the pre-Revolutionary period) we believe that it is rather the 1st Restoration.
In the attempt to identify this relatively young captain (he looks to be approx. 30 years) we turned, as usual, to the 1820 edition of the standard reference source - "Annuaire officiel des officiers de l'armée active"; this, reflecting the situation of the middle of the preceding year (1819), is the first edition in which the names of the officers are accompanied by their French military decorations - the Orders of St. Louis and the Legion of Honor (the "Decoration of the Lily", obligatory at that time, does not appear in these lists).
In this annual issue, among all the captains of both types of artillery, one finds only two men in possession of exactly this set of awards visible on the portrait - Chevalier Cross of St. Louis and Officer's Cross (ribbon with bow) of the Legion of Honor.
Their names are:
- Captain Antoine Nicolas Guillot of the 1st Regiment of the "artillerie a pied" ("De Lafere"), stationed in the years 1819-1820 in Douay. No existing portraits of this man are known.
- Captain François Louis Saint-Jacques of the 2nd Regiment of the "artillerie a cheval" ("De Rennes"), stationed in Toulouse at that time. Also from him no portraits were known until today.
The first of them was born in 1780 (in 1815 he was 35 years old). He received his Officer's Cross of the Legion of Honor still in 1812, the Chevalier Cross of St. Louis in 1817.
In contrast, François Louis Saint-Jacques was only 31 years old in 1815. Moreover, his Officer Cross of of Legion of Honor he obtained his Officer's Cross of the Legion of Honor exactly during the 1st Restoration - on January 17, 1815. Certainly this great royal favor (which was practically a recognition of his merits during his short service in the newly-formed Royal army) took place after (!) his award (still in the 2nd half of 1814!) of the Chevalier Cross of St. Louis. Exactly then he was depicted on this portrait - with the just received Cross of St. Louis, the "Decoration of the Lily" and the Chevalier Cross (which he had received still in 1808!) of the Legion. Obviously, shortly after the award of the Officer of the Legion of Honor, this portrait additionally received a bow on the ribbon of the Legion.
We are absolutely sure that exactly this man is the sitter and that he ordered this miniature shortly after the award of St.Louis in 1814 (so a few months before the "100 days"!).
François Louis Saint-Jacques was born on the 2nd of February 1784 in Sedan (Ardennes). On 22nd September 1802 he entered (with the rank of "élève sergant d'artillerie") the "Ecole Polytechnique". A year and a half later, on the 21st of February 1804, he became "élève d'lieutenant" at the "Ecole d'Artillerie".
On the 9th of March 1806, already "sous-lieutenant" he joined the 1st Regiment of the "artillerie à pied" of the Imperial Guard. On the 22nd of November 1808, he was awarded the Chevalier Cross of the Legion of Honor. On 11th of January 1810 he was promoted to Captain of the 2nd Class and on 10th April 1813, to Captain of the 1st Class .
In the ranks of this regiment he participated in the Battle of Piltusk (26th November 1806), in the Battle of Ostroleka (16th February 1807), in 1808 he fought at Somo-Sierra and Madrid, later in other places of the Peninsular War in Spain.
In 1813 his regiment rejoined the Grande Armée in Germany, and our captain was present at both battles of Dresden.
During these years he was wounded at Somo-Sierra in Spain; at Dresden he lost two horses under him.
On April 1st, 1814, he left his regiment and was transferred to the General Staff of the (still) Napoleonic Army. Apparently he remained on the General Staff (then already of the Royal Army) until he was awarded the Officer's Cross of the Legion in January of 1815.
And now very interesting twist in his biography:
In March of 1814 he joined Napoleon who was just returning to France, thus violating his oath to the King (his benefactor of a few of months before! He must have stopped powdering his hair these days!).
Moreover, on April 22, 1815, he became one of the Emperor's ordonnance officers (wing-aide-de-camp) (see our images nr.). He also accompanied Napoleon to Waterloo, on his way to Paris, where they arrived on June 21, 1815. As Napoleon's aide-de-camp, Brigadier General Gaspard Gourgaud, later recalled, Saint-Jacques (like all the other ordonnance officers) wanted to accompany the emperor on his way to seaport of Rochefort, but the latter said "he wanted to leave them in private, he did not need them, they would make themselves unhappy and expatriates" .
Shortly thereafter, Saint-Jacques (like thousands of other officers who had changed their oaths to King Louis XVIII during the "100 Days") was placed on the list of "demi-solde" (half-paid, i.e., inactive) officers, and he did not return to duty (back on the General Staff) until 1816.
On May 8th, 1817, he was transferred to the 2nd "Regiment d'artillerie à cheval" ("De Rennes"), stationed in Toulouse.
He died in Toulouse on the 18th of March 1833, leaving his wife, Jeanne Françoise Elisabeth Alexandrine de Casteras (b. 1797); their marriage was childless.
We add that due the fact that this portrait was executed in the 2nd half of 1814, i. e. at the time of Captain Saint-Jacques' service in the General Staff the author was certainly one of the Parisian (!) miniaturists.
Provenance: antique store in Dijon, France
Condition: good; in original travelling case (5,5 x 4,5 cm)
Creation Year: 1814
Measurements: UNFRAMED:4,5x3,5cm/1,8x1,4in FRAMED: 4,7x3,7cm/1,9x1,5in
Object Type: Framed miniature
Style: Portrait miniatures
Technique: watercolor on ivory (oval)
Creator: French School
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Creator Dates: -
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