Friday’s Fabulous Find

I have decided to start a new column on this site. Every Friday, I will be posting a brief article about one of the fabulous objects d’art I have seen during my travels. These objects have aroused my curiosity and inspired my creativity. I hope you enjoy Friday’s Fabulous Finds!

Napoleon's Nécessaire (Travel Box):
While wandering through the Louvre on a blisteringly cold winter day, I happened upon this curious object: Napoleon’s Nécessaire. The emperor would bring this mahogany box containing over one hundred useful items (including a silver tea set, a ruler, compass, almond powder, mirror, ear picker, and shaving brush) with him on all of his military campaigns. One little gold box apparently contained licorice (one of the Emperors preferred treats). I couldn’t help but marvel at the opulence and practicality of the nécessaire, nor could I help but wonder what the little objects would say if they could speak. What would his mother of pearl handled penknife tell us about the “glorious” Egyptian Campaign, the brutal march through Russia, exile on Elba, and the humiliating defeat at Waterloo?

The fate of the nécessaire: Napoleon’s Travel Box was one of the items captured and seized by the allied troops at Waterloo. I do not believe it was returned to him before his final exile on St. Helena.

Some Fun Reads on Napoelon:
The Letters of Napoleon to Josephine
Napoleon's Privates: 2500 Years of History Uncovered
Napoleon: HIs Wives and Women


Rowenna said...

So cool! I would love to see this...must book trip to France :) It was pretty common for eighteenth and nineteenth century military officers to travel with "niceties" like personal shaving kits, camp furniture, on occasion their wives..but trust Napoleon to go above and beyond!

Anonymous said...

I usually do not swear.

...But the moment I saw your blog, I had to clamp my lips shut, to keep a bad word from popping out.

...And then I saw the photos and a string of inappropriate words flooded out.

STUNNING BLOG! And...Oh em gee. The photo on this entry, along with the one below, of the manor--did you take them all?!?!?!?!

By God, who ARE you?! I know you're a writer, but... How do you travel so much? URGH I envy you.

stephanie said...

What a beautiful set, and so fascinating to imagine Napoleon using those very items...How I would love to go back in time and be a fly on the wall. I saw this article (which I am sure you have already come across before, but just in case), showing another one of his necessaires (a smaller one, but just as nice!). I wonder how many of those necessaires are left out there...I love this new feature, and look forward to a new one!


Leah Marie Brown said...

Rowenna~If you go to the Musee de Armee in Paris, you can see Napoleon's camp bed as well!

Miss Blue Stocking ~ LOL! Thanks for your kind words about my blog. Yes, I have taken most of the photos on this site. I love traveling and have made it a priority in my life the last twenty years. I am fortunate, too, to be married to a military pilot. We move around a lot, which allows me to see more of the world. Thanks for visiting and I hope to see you on these pages again ;)

Stephanie ~ It is my understanding Napoleon had three: two large and one small. This one was seized by the British and the second large was used to go into exile in St. Helena.

M said...

What a great blog you've got here. (And the picture of you at the window in Chenonceau, daydreaming, captures perfectly your love affair with France. Hard not to love that country; we're definitely on the same wavelength there!
Will be stopping by again soon. :-)
All the best,

Jill said...

Opulence and practicality for sure! How funny to be a ruler, to still think of practical things and wrap them all in golden packages. It reminds me that the most powerful human is still just that--human.

Anonymous said...

Looks to me as if Napoleon holds the patent on the concept of what Men and women tote around on trips, the toiletry kit!