Rare personal portfolio of the major-general... - Lot 44 - Drouot Estimations

Lot 44
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Rare personal portfolio of the major-general... - Lot 44 - Drouot Estimations

Rare personal portfolio of the major-general and minister of war Alexandre BERTHIER (1753-1815).

Green long-grained morocco gusseted wallet, gilded with enriched rhombus motifs, silver-plated brass fittings (with cloverleaf key). Marked with the iron "Alexandre Berthier" in capital gold letters. Red morocco and green cloth interior, with six separations and a flap. Not signed.

Slight wear. Forced closure.

Consulate or First Empire period.

H. 33 x W. 47,5 cm (closed).

Provenance :

Louis-Alexandre BERTHIER (1753-1815), major-general, prince of Neuchâtel and Valangin, prince of Wagram, marshal of the Empire.

Probably given to Jean Chrysostome CALÈS (1769-1853), colonel, baron of the Empire.

His little nephew Jean Jules Godefroy CALÈS (1828-1899).

Then by descent.


Colonel in 1778, Alexandre Berthier was major general of the National Guard in Versailles during the Revolution, he facilitated the emigration of various personalities including the Count of Artois, the Polignacs and the king's two aunts, Mesdames Adélaïde and Victoire de France. He served as chief of staff under various generals, including Napoleon Bonaparte. Berthier participated under his orders in the Italian and Egyptian campaigns and supported the coup d'état of 18 Brumaire. Under the Consulate, he received the portfolio of the Ministry of War, which he kept until 1807. When the imperial regime was established in 1804, Napoleon elevated him to the dignity of marshal of the Empire and then made him sovereign prince of Neuchâtel and Valangin in 1806.

As major general of the Grande Armée - the equivalent of a chief of staff - Berthier took part in all the campaigns of the Empire: he proved to be a talented officer, endowed with a great capacity for work and an intuitive understanding of the Emperor's intentions, of whom he was one of the main collaborators. However, he rarely exercised command on the battlefield, where he proved to be a poor strategist, as at the beginning of the Austrian campaign in 1809. Made prince of Wagram and colonel general of the Swiss the same year, he remained at the Emperor's side until the latter's abdication in 1814. He then rallied to Louis XVIII who made him peer of France. He returned to his family in Bamberg, where he was defenestrated, in circumstances that are not yet clear, on June 1, 1815.

Jean Chrysostome Calès served from 1792 to 1810 in the Revolutionary and Napoleonic wars. Made colonel in 1807, he commanded the 96th infantry regiment (1807), the 4th infantry regiment (1796) and the 5th battalion of volunteers of the Haute-Garonne (1792). Among his feats of arms are the battles of Sierra Negra, Castiglione, Engen, Biberach, Eylau, Friedland

Somosierra and Talavera. Knight of the Legion of Honor (1804) then Officer (1807), Calès was created Baron of the Empire by the emperor

Napoleon on August 15, 1809. A very small number of colonels were appointed to this noble rank which is generally reserved for generals, mayors of large cities and bishops. He was elected to the House of the Hundred Days (from May 16, 1815 to July 13, 1815).

We thank Mr. Pierre HARCHES, a university professor from Toulouse, for his work on the genealogy of the Calès, in the Revue du Tarn, January-February-March 1990, "Une famille du Midi du XVIIe siècle à nos jours : les Calès et leur descendance".

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