Only few characters have influenced Europe’s history at 360 degrees. So not only politically but from an artistic, architectural una cultural point of view. The most eclectic among them is for sure Napoleon, Emperor of France and one of the greatest promoters of Europe’s art and craftmanship. No wonder that Montblanc has decided to pay tribute to some of the most significant emblems of Napoleon’s era.
Neoclassical architecture is an architectural style produced by the Neoclassical movement that began in the mid-18th century in Italy and France which then became one the most prominent and iconic architectural styles in the Western World. And in fact, these is the dominant style of the four editions of the latest Montblanc Patron of Art Homage to Napoleon Bonaparte. 4 limited editions that leave no doubt on the opulence and the sophistication Napoleon and the manufacts that have been created in that era. Let’s start with the Limited Edition 4810 that is the, let’s say, the entry level version of this series of masterpieces.
Immortality and resurrection
Well the first impression you get when you see the Limited Edition 4810 is a feeling of heaviness but without being pretentious. The beautiful blue pattern reminds of Napoléon‘s blue uniform, it also pays homage to the colour of the throne room in the palace of Fontainebleau. Symbol of immortality and resurrection, bees adorn the lacquered surface of the fountain pen. Because the bee is the oldest sovereign emblem from the Merovingian dynasty, the emperor chose the symbol to link his new dynasty to the first sovereigns of France. By the way, the bee is also a distinctive symbol of the Laguiole knifes, have you noticed. A very deeply rooted in the French history and culture. The writing instrument’s clip evokes a sword blade, with a red clip stone representing the coronation ring of Napoléon’s wife Josephine. This detail is kept on all 4 editions, reality. In keeping with the aesthetics of neoclassicism, the cap ring features a motif reminiscent of the ancient architecture. Last but not least, the N emblem embossed on the top of the clip can’t be missed. And in blue we continue.
Wealth and abundance
A tribute to Napoléon’s time as a consul, the role he established on his way to imperial power, this fountain with platinum-coated fittings features an intricate yellow gold overlay rich in imperial symbolism. Compared to the Limited Edition 4810, the Limited Edition 888 is incredibly well balanced and with the precious blue lacquer underneath the overlay is reminiscent of the blue of his first uniform as consul. The skeleton spiral overlay in 18ct yellow gold that covers the cap and barrel is inspired by the original Colonne Vendôme in Paris, a military structure inspired by Trajan’s column in Rome. The skeleton decoration features oak leaves from Napoléon‘s consul uniform to represent the strength and longevity, olive leaves from his uniform of the French academy as a symbol of strength and victory, wisdom and faithfulness, immortality, hope, wealth and abundance, as well as the sovereign bee symbol, once again. And we will find it also on the next model. But much more prominently this time. The 18ct gold, partly rhodium-coated nib features the special embossing of Napoléon wearing his distinctive bicorn hat, very similar to the Limited Edition 4810.
Opulence and power
1992, the year when the Colonne Vendôme was classified as historical monument. In fact, the Limited Edition 92 commemorates this exact year with a limitation number of only 92 pieces. This work of art in 18ct yellow gold is a celebration of Napoléon’s opulent coronation. The red jaspis used on the barrel paired with gold in a grid Empire-style pattern is an homage to the colours of imperial power. In reference to the golden bees that used to decorate Napoléon Bonaparte’s palaces, courts and imperial offices, the guilloche on the Au 750 solid yellow gold cap features a hand-engraved bee made from solid 18ct white gold, surrounded by stars which are inspired by Napoléon Bonaparte’s throne in the Tuileries Palace. And this, dear reader, is a piece of finest art that left me speechless. So dominant on the cap but at the same time, so harmonious. An important motif of the empire style, the Egyptian palmette, is engraved on the cone, which also bears an engraved portrait of the emperor. The handcrafted 18ct gold nib is decorated with a representation of his coronation sword, a symbol conveying the absolute power of the emperor. But there is more to discover, and for once we move from jewels and precious stones to cameos.
A celebration of Napoléon’s might and opulence, this rare masterpiece limited to just 8 pieces is crafted from 18ct solid yellow gold featuring a combination of red and white, colours reminiscent of his coronation garments. The coronation of the Napoleon series features a barrel that is beautifully painted with white translucent lacquer and elegantly decorated with 3D hand engraved Acanthus leaves, inspired by Greco-Roman and Egyptian art. A reference to the enthusiasm for cameos that Napoleon developed during his rule, the cap features a hand crafted cameo portrait of Napoléon. An absolute joy to look at. So fine and full of details. Incredible what has been done here. The hand engravings on the cap top – a laurel wreath, the imperial crown and an eagle – refer to his coronation insignia. Dulcis in fundo, the cap is adorned by the Montblanc diamond shaped – emblem. The rhodium-coated embossing – inspired by his coronation sword-hilt – decorates the handcrafted 18ct yellow gold nib.
Once again, Montblanc has been able to pay tribute to one of the most important figures in European history with a series of instruments that shows perfectly why Napoleon was a “patron of art”. His contribution to what we have in terms artefacts and architecture masterpieces was huge. Now it’s up on us to preserve them.