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Emperor Napoleon I - Le Creusot Crystal Sulphide Portrait,1830
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Emperor Napoleon I - Le Creusot Crystal Sulphide Portrait,1830

Measurements: 8.3cm (3.25in) x 6cm (2.4in)

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Lead glass (crystal) plaque of irregular octagonal form containing with sulphide profile portrait of Napoleon I after Bertrand Andrieu medal marking the baptism of his long awaited son the King of Rome, contained in a period gilt bronze frame with suspension loop. Cased.

This sulphide portrait was created at the Le Creusot Crystal works in the Saône-et-Loire department of Burgundy in about 1830. Lead crystal production was developed there  alongside steel production using English techniques due to abundant and cheap coal supplies. By the 1780s Manufacture des Cristaux de la Reine located in Sèvres, near Paris, had chosen to set up its workshops at Le Creusot. The manufactory flourished under the patronage of Queen Marie Antoinette but the Revolution necessarily took its toll on the on French luxury goods trade which Napoleon later did his utmost to uphold. By the early 1830s, however, the crystal industry at Le Creusot was in trouble and was sold by its owners to Baccarat and Saint-Louis in 1832.
 
The process of actually producing sulphide portraits involved embedding the ceramic profile in the glass, by cutting a hole in the hot glass, sliding in the insert, and resealing the glass afterwards. An identical example to the present plaque, but lacking mount, is in the Bergstrom-Mahler Museum of Glass (Object ID: PW 1958.325.323).
 

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