THE MAGNIFICENT IMPERIAL NAPOLEONIC RUSSIAN ORMOLU
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Lot 1301 Details
Undoubtedly the most artistically and historically significant Imperial Russian sword to be offered in America since the September 1945 Gimbels sale of three shashka from the Imperial Collection at Tsarskoe Selo (one of which, the cased garniture of the Tsarevich Nikolaevich Alexei formerly in the Collection of Robert M. Lee, remains in private hands), Prince Odoevsky's saber is splendid in every respect and a true battle sword. The Odoevsky saber is similar to the magnificent swords awarded to British sailors and soldiers for distinguished actions during the Napoleonic Wars by the Patriotic Fund of Lloyds, only even more impressive. Designed in the Empire Style popular with all the royal courts of Europe at the onset of the 19th century, particularly in the Court of Tsar Alexander I in which all things French were greatly admired and French was spoken rather than Russian, the Odoevsky saber is 41 inches overall with a 33 inch blade and weighs an astonishing six pounds one ounce. Despite its massiveness, the sword itself is a perfectly balanced battle weapon. The PrinceÂ’s sword is mounted with a superb Damascus blade as was the fashion in Russia during the period as Damascus blades were justly renowned for their supreme sharpness, resilience, and beauty. The blade is of the finest watered (wootz) steel from Esfahan (Isfahan) and signed and dated by the maker, Â“Work of Assadillah Esfahani (Assadillah of Esfahan) 1215 (1800-1801)Â”. The blade tang is threaded, permitting the pommel nut to attach the hilt, indicating that it was specifically crafted for the PrinceÂ’s sword on special order. Even prior to the Battle of the Pyramids in 1798, the fashion of using Ottoman Damascus sword blades and gun barrels in European swords and firearms was prevalent due to the unparalleled excellence of Damascus steel. Many fine European wheel-lock and flintlock guns have Middle Eastern barrels from guns captured following the Siege Of Vienna in 1683. After NapoleonÂ’s return to France in 1799, the mounting of Damascus blades in European sabers became commonplace. The hilt of fire gilt ormolu bronze exhibits the very finest Russian craftsmanship consonant with the mounts on Imperial furniture of the period. The richness of this technique can only be equaled by solid gold, which is too soft for use in battle. The pommel is cast and chased with floral designs. The crossguard features two cast and chased flowerheads from which emerge an eagle and, at the other end, a fluted quillion. The triangular langlets are cast and chased with exquisitely detailed Medusa heads crowned with a martial stand of arms. The scabbard of fire gilt ormolu with six windows framing the striking, contrasting jet black leather covered wooden liner. The mounts are superbly cast and chased with martial trophies of arms surmounted by fierce lion heads. The motifs celebrate classical Greek and Roman warriorÂ’s armor with swords, shields, and spears in stands of arms all executed in the finest style equal in quality to Nicolas Noel BoutetÂ’s best swords from the Manufacture de Versailles such as the naval swords made especially for Napoleon and Marshal Joachim Murat, King of Naples. Adding to the stature of the sword as a piece of extraordinary Russian historical interest and elevating it to Russian Imperial National Treasure status is the period presentation in Cyrillic translating to Â“YEAR 1810 PODPORUCHIK I.I. ODOEYEVSKYÂ”. Deputy Director Sergey Lvov of the War of 1812 Museum in Moscow has confirmed that Prince Ivan Ivanovich was killed in action on 29 January 1814 at the Battle of Brienne in France. A portrait of the Prince in civilian dress is in the Moscow State Historical Museum. Prince Odoevsky had a distinguished military career serving with the Pavlogradskii Hussars. His heroic conduct at the Battle of Kobrin was sufficiently outstanding as to merit the Anna 3rd Class. As if the splendor and artistry of the sword itself were not sufficient to be on interest to any collector or institution added to its significance as a battle weapon owned by a renowned Russian prince, the sister of Ivan Ivanovich, Princess Varvara Ivanova Odoevsky, wrote a series of letters describing life in Napoleonic Moscow used by Count Leo Tolstoy as background material for his most famous novel, War and Peace, in which Tolstoy specifically mentions the Pavlograd Hussars. As Tolstoy based his characters on actual historical personages it is likely that Prince Ivan Ivanovich Odoevsky was one of them. Further research will strengthen the association of the PrinceÂ’s sword with one of the worldÂ’s greatest authors and his tour de force novel of the Napoleonic Wars from a Russian perspective. The condition of the blade is excellent with the beautiful wootz Damascus pattern clearly visible and the makerÂ’s signature entirely legible. The massive gilt bronze ormolu mounts retain nearly all their original bright mercury fire gilding with only minor wear. Due to an old fracture in the knucklebow there is some minor refreshing to the gilding in the area affected. The presentation inscription is pristine and the calligraphy of the engraving masterful. The black leather has been professionally refreshed to the highest museum standard. Provenance: Captain Louis Peugnet of the Garde Imperial du Corps, The Stone House, St. Vincent, New York, The Stone House owners The Prince Ivan Ivanovich Odoevsky Sword is a collection in itself and worthy of a place of the highest honor in any American or Russian private or public collection. Blade Length: 33" Overall Length: 41" Paperwork: Extensive Research and Documentation from period sources Condition: Dimensions:CORRECTION: The Prince’s name engraved on the sword uses the old Russian Cyrillic spelling and further verifies that the inscription is authentic, of the Napoleonic period, and not a later addition.