Napoleon - An Intimate Portrait

Napoléon’s first will, envelope, quill pen and desk blotter

Napoléon’s first will, envelope, quill pen and desk blotter

- August 1819

At a time when Napoléon was deeply depressed on St. Helena and convinced that the English would try to kill him, he wrote his first will. In this document, he details the instructions for the dispersal of his estate, including money, bequeathed to his family and generals.

“My dear Bertrand, I send you my codicile written under my own hand. After this, it will be possible for you to reclaim everything that used to be my property in St. Helena. You will do with [the things] as I am about to order you now. You will give half of my diamond necklace to Madame Bertrand and the other part to Madame Montholon. You will give 50,000 [francs] to Montholon, 50,000 to Bertrand, 20,000 to Saint Denis, 20,000 to Noverazz, 10,000 to Archambaut, 10,000 to Gentilini and you will keep 120,000 and the total of all money here is 300,000.
You will take my silver, my armor, my porcelain, my books with Imperial Arms for my son, and everything that you think can be used one day. I give you my manuscripts –don’t have them reprinted until you have read the books which I do not have here.
I will give you tonight a letter for Lafitte with my instructions for the dispersal of the 6,000,000 [francs]. Look after this now, and give it back to me if I need it.
19th August, Napoléon.”

Historical Provenance - Bertrand family collection

Images © Chalençon
A Traveling Exhibition from Russell Etling Company (c) 2011