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Lot 0097A
Europe, France, map from 1709 CE, oiled paper overlays from 1756 to 1763 CE, owned by Louis-Alexandre Berthier (1753 to 1815 CE), Marshal, Vice-Constable of France, and Chief of Staff (Major general) under Napoleon. A wood-cut printed French map of the Landgraviate of Hesse-Kassel covered with oiled paper marked in hand with black, blue, and red to show troop movements from the Seven Years War. The map itself is a gorgeous work of art, richly detailed down to individual trees. Size: 43" W x 31" H (109.2 cm x 78.7 cm)

Berthier was a man famous for his attention to detail and ability to understand Napoleon's directions and carry them out excellently. He died suddenly, and with some mystery, in a fall from a window in 1814 (suicide or murder?); after Napoleon's defeat at Waterloo the next year, he wrote, "If Berthier had been there, I would not have met this misfortune." This map was in Berthier's possessions, and probably hung in his study. Just as military strategists learn about Waterloo today, Napoleon and his men were keen students of past battles, and this map would have served as an important learning tool for Berthier.

The Landgraviate of Hesse-Kassel was a state in the Holy Roman Empire located in modern day north-central Germany, a hotly contested area during the Seven Years War (called the French and Indian War in the USA), with eleven named battles and near-constant troop movements. One of the first true world wars, it involved every European power except the Ottomans, and spanned five continents, led by Britain (including Prussia, Portugal, Hanover, and other parts of Germany) on one side and France (including the Holy Roman Empire, Russia, Spain, and Sweden) on the other, with proxy wars in India, North America, South America, the Philippines, and West Africa. Perhaps this map details the movement of troops leading up to the Siege of Cassel in October-November 1762, the final engagement in the war in western Europe.

Provenance: Ex-Private New Jersey collection; ex-Sotheby's London, March 1, 1938, Lot #54

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The oiled paper overlay has losses as shown, but what remains has clear writing and marks.

Buyer's Premium

  • 24.5%

18th C. French Map w/ Oiled Paper, ex-Sotheby's

Estimate $1,000 - $1,500Mar 15, 2017