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Auctioneers Dr. Crott 90th Auction

Mathilde Lætitia Wilhelmine Bonaparte Anatole Demidoff 191 Mortimer & Hunt, London, Case No. 1959, 42 mm, 72 g, circa 1841 A lady’s fine gold enamel pocket watch of historical interest and noble provenance; created to mark the wedding of French princess Mathilde-Laetitia Wilhelmine Bonaparte (1820-1904) and Russian industrialist Anatole Nikolaievitch Demidov (1813-1870), Prince of San Donato, Italy. With correspondence of the princess Case: 18k gold, engine-turned, floral engraving and translucent enamelling. Back with central red Greek cross on a pink-coloured background, framed by a border of 17 red enamel squares with the letters of the couple’s surnames in alternating order. Middle part with dark blue translucent enamelling, decorated with gold twines and the Demidov family motto: “ACTA NON VERBA” (“Deeds Not Words”). Gold bezels on front and back with alternating red translucent fleur-de-lys and Greek crosses. Gold enamel pendant in the form of the closed crown of a prince. Case maker’s mark “LC” (Louis Comptesse, Soho, London), numbered and signed dust cover. Dial: pink-coloured enamel on an engine-turned ground with floral engraving, radial gold Roman numerals, in the centre a red translucent fleur-de-lys, champlevé enamel, blued fleur-de-lys hands. Movm.: thin bridge movement, keywind, frosted, gilt, spring detent escapement, gold screw compensation balance, fine florally engraved balance cock. Mathilde Lætitia Wilhelmine Bonaparte (1820-1904) Mathilde Laetitia Wilhelmine Bonaparte, Princesse Française, was a French princess and Salon holder. She was a daughter of Napoleon’s brother Jérôme Bonaparte and his second wife, Catharina of Württemberg, daughter of King Frederick I of Württemberg. Born in Trieste, Mathilde Bonaparte was raised in Florence and Rome. She was originally engaged to her first cousin, the future Napoleon III of France, but the engangement was later broken following his impri- sonment at Ham. She married a rich Russian tycoon, Anatole Demidov, on November 1, 1840 in Rome. Anatole was raised to the station of Prince by Grand Duke Leopold II of Tuscany shortly before the wedding to fulfill the wishes of Mathilde’s father and to preserve Mathilde’s station as Princess. Anatole’s princely title was never recognised in Russia. They had no children. The marriage between these two strong and prominent personalities was stormy. Prince Demidoff insisted on keeping his lover, Valentine de St Aldegonde, which of course was fiercely resisted by Mathilde. In 1846, Mathilde fled the household for Paris with her new lover Émilien de Nieuwerkerke and with Anatole’s jewelry. The jewelry constituted the dowry that Anatole was forced to bankroll for his father-in-law so it formed the property of Anatole. Princess Mathilde’s mother was Emperor Nicholas I of Russia’s first cousin, and the emperor supported Mathilde in her clashes with her spouse, a Russian subject. As consequence, Anatole chose to live much of his remaining life outside Russia. The terms of the separation announced by the Tribunal in Petersburg forced Anatole to pay annual alimony of 200,000 French francs. Anatole vigorously pursued the return of his property, which led Mathilde and her strong circle of literary friends to mount highly personal and unfair counter-attacks using the public media. In the end, Anatole’s heirs never recovered his property since Mathilde’s last will was altered towards the end of her life. Source:, as of 09/16/2014. Count Anatoly (called Anatole) Nikolaievich Demidov, 1st Prince of San Donato (1813-1870) Count Anatoly (called Anatole) Nikolaievich Demidov, 1st Prince of San Donato, was a Russian industrialist, diplomat and arts patron of the Demidov family. Born in Saint Petersburg or Moscow, he was the second son of Count Nikolai Nikitich Demidov and Baroness Elisabeta Alexandrovna Stroganova; he grew up in Paris, where his father was ambassador. He served briefly as a diplomat himself in Paris (living in the hôtel built by Charles de Wailly for the sculptor Augustin Pajou, at 87 rue de la Pépinière, now the rue La Boétie), Rome and Venice. On his father’s death in 1828 Anatole settled for good in western Europe, returning to Russia as little as possible. This attitude alienated him from tsar Nicholas I of Russia, who always had an antipathy towards him. He also considerably expanded the Demidov collection assembled by his father at the Villa San Donato near Florence, being particularly interested in Romantic art. In the Paris Salon of 1834 he acquired Paul Delaroche’s The Execution of Lady Jane Grey (now in the National Gallery, London). In 1833 he bought François Marius Granet’s The Death of Poussin, which caused a sensation at the 1834 Salon. He commissioned paintings from Eugène Delacroix and watercolours from Richard Parkes Bonington and Théodore Géricault, as well as Briullov’s The Last Day of Pompeii. His collection was split up in public sales in Paris in 1863 and shortly before the prince’s death in 1870.

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