When one door closes, another one opens, as the old saying goes.
The defeat of French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte at Waterloo paved
the way for the exiled King Louis XVIII to return to Paris and begin
the Bourbon Restoration.
Such a magnificent occasion was the subject of a commemorative
medal. A platinum version of the medal highlights Editions V.
Gadoury’s Dec. 6 auction in Monaco.
Napoleon’s exile in Elba in 1814 is widely known, but the other
would-be ruler of France was also exiled, twice, the first time
beginning in 1791 during the French Revolution.
Louis XVIII spent 23 years in exile before returning in 1814 after
Napoleon’s abdication following the capture of Paris. Napoleon was
banished to Elba.
His escape and return to Paris triggered Le Cent Jours, or “the
Hundred Days,” the period between his return on March 20, 1815, and
the second restoration of King Louis XVIII on July 8, 1815.
During the Hundred Days, Louis XVIII went back into exile, until
Napoleon met his Waterloo.
The medal in the auction proclaims the king’s second entry to Paris,
in July of 1815.
The Battle of Waterloo was the final campaign of the Napoleonic Wars
and Napoleon’s final grasp at the emperorship. Louis XVIII then ruled
as king for just under a decade, until his death in 1824.
The obverse of the medal shows a bust of the king and the reverse
shows the triumphant king being driven by a quadriga (four-horse
chariot) led by an allegory of the city of Paris.
The quadriga is a familiar image, and recalls the quadriga that
appears on the Arc de Triomphe de Carrousel built by Napoleon from
1806 to 1808 to mark his victories.
The obverse of the medal was designed by Bertrand Andrieu, whose
work, Leonard Forrer wrote, in the Biographical Dictionary of
Medallists, “bears the stamp of the epoch he lived in, when Napoleon
was the Caesar of a modern Rome.”
The reverse was designed by Raymond Gayrard, a prolific French
medalist, sculptor and poet. Forrer was somewhat complimentary of
Gayrard’s artistic abilities, writing, “He adhered in his style to the
old principles of the eighteenth century; nevertheless he is worthy to
occupy an honourable place amongst the most eminent artists of his time.”
The medal weighs 150.7 grams, or nearly 5 troy ounces, and measures
30.9 millimeters in diameter.
The medal is in Uncirculated condition, according to the firm, and
has an opening bid of €6,000 ($7,650 U.S.).
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