Friday, December 3, 2010

French Signatures

A portrait of a man next to a block of text and a signature.You may have a signed photo from your favorite celebrity, but can you match a collection of autographs from notable French rulers and other "illustrious personages?" Starting with a Francis I document from 1529 and ending with a nineteenth-century letter from Napoleon III, this collection includes signatures from Catherine de Medici, Cardinals Richelieu and Mazarin, the "sun king" Louis XIV, Marie Antionette, and Napoleon Bonaparte among others.

Though most of the documents themselves are fairly commonplace and written by a secretary, this collection does provide small snapshots of the events of the times and a glimpse into everyday affairs.  A letter signed by Colbert from October 1658 discusses the king's edict to create a sovereign council to administer justice.  A document signed by Comtesse du Barry (official mistress of Louis XV) is an order for payment to a M. Pectern.

An engraved portrait of Louis XVI with his wife and child, above a separate picture of figures gathered around a guillotine.
Preceding each signed document  is an engraved portrait of the notable signatory, including a somewhat macabre illustration of Louis XVI, Marie Antoinette, and the Dauphin juxtaposed against a view of a guillotine.

Ask for Codex 003094 to see this item.

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