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New Napoleonic Medal: Battle of Lutzen, 1813


DonnaML

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Here's another one of my five NYINC purchases from last Friday. The dealer, William Goetz of Mountainside, NJ -- who has no website and makes no Internet sales, and does business only at coin shows and through the mail, as if it were 1990 -- had a coin box full of Napoleonic medals that I went through. This was the only one that spoke up and said "buy me!" It's a type I've been interested in for a while, given that the reverse scene is considerably more dynamic than the usual, and although it's not difficult to find, this specimen cost me a couple of hundred dollars less than what most examples seem to be selling for online. Even though I think it's in quite nice condition.

France, AE Medal, Battle of Lutzen [Lützen, Saxony-Anhalt], 2 May 1813. Artists: Obverse Alexis Joseph Depaulis; Reverse Nicholas Guy Antoine Brenet. Obv. Uniformed bust of Napoleon right in high relief, bareheaded, with high collar and large epaulette on shoulder [representing introduction of new military bust to replace Andrieu’s portrait, see Todd p. 159 and Zeitz p. 236]; above his head, a laurel wreath; around, NAPOLEON – EMP. ET ROI; beneath bust truncation in two lines, DENON. D. [direxit] | DEPAULIS. F. [fecit] / Rev. A Prussian cavalryman armed with sword and a Russian Cossack wearing long kaftan and armed with spear (point touching right rim) on horseback, fleeing right at full gallop from victorious French infantry, seen advancing right in the distance beneath them; in exergue in two lines, BATAILLE DE LUTZEN | II MAI MDCCCXIII; above exergue line to left, BRENET. 40 mm., 42.13 g. Trésor Numismatique 57.9 p. 111, ill. Planche LVII No. 9 [Paul Delaroche, Henriquel Dupont & Charles Lenormant, eds., Trésor de numismatique et de glyptique, Vol. 18, Collection de Médailles de L’Empire Français et de L’Empereur Napoleon (1840), available at gallica.bnf.fr & on Google Books]; Bramsen II 1229 p. 46 [Ludvig Ernst Bramsen, Médaillier Napoléon le Grandou, Description des médailles, clichés, repoussés, et médailles-décorations relatives aux affaires de la France pendant le consulat et l'empire, Vol. II, 1810-1815 at p. 35 (Copenhagen 1907), available at Newman Numismatic Portal]; Zeitz 132 at p. 236, ill. p. 237  [Lisa & Joachim Zeitz, Napoleons Medaillen (Petersberg Imhof 2003)]; Todd p. 188, obv. ill. p. 159,  rev. ill. p. 190 & on book’s front cover [Richard A. Todd, Napoleon’s Medals: Victory to the Arts (The History Press, UK, 2009)]; David Thomason Alexander, A Napoleonic Medal Primer (2022), No. 147 (p. 148; ill. p. 149) (available at https://nnp.wustl.edu/library/book/618630); Laskey CXXXII at pp. 217-220 [Capt. J.C. Laskey, A Description of the Series of Medals Struck at the National Medal Mint by Order of Napoleon Bonaparte (London 1818), available on Google Books]. Purchased from William Goetz, Mountainside, NJ, 12 Jan. 2024 (at NYINC 2024).*

COMBINED2Napoleon-BattleofLutzen1813.jpg.1771f1a23201a3e351030d941412a186.jpg

*The May 1813 Battle of Lutzen [Lützen] in Saxony-Anhalt, about 10 km. southwest of Leipzig, in which Napoleon defeated an allied army of the Sixth Coalition -- not to be confused with the famous Battle of Lützen in the Thirty Years War in 1632 at a nearby site, resulting in the death of Gustavus Adolphus -- was one of Napoleon’s few (and temporary) military successes after the disastrous retreat from Moscow. For details of the battle and its aftermath, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_L%C3%BCtzen_(1813); see also Laskey, op. cit., at pp. 217-220. Although Napoleon won the day when the Prussians and Russians retreated, the lack of French cavalry prevented pursuit, and French casualties (some 20,000) were double those of the combined Allied forces. The same was true of Napoleon’s victory in the Battle of Wurtchen (Bautzen) 18 days later, commemorated by Bramsen II 1232. According to the Wikipedia article, the “ferocity of these two battles prompted Napoleon to accept a temporary armistice on June 4 with Tsar Alexander and King Frederick William III. This agreement provided the allies the respite to organise and re-equip their armies and, perhaps more importantly, encouraged Britain to provide Russia and Prussia with war subsidies totalling seven million pounds. The financial security offered by this agreement was a major boon to the war effort against Napoleon. Another important result of the battle was that it encouraged Austria to join the allied Coalition upon the armistice's expiration, shifting the balance of power dramatically in the Coalition's favor.”

For a discussion of the new obverse portrait by Depaulis, see Zeitz p. 236: “Auf der Vorderseite ist ein neues Porträt von Napoleon eingeführt das der junge Medailleur Depaulis [1792-1867] 1813 schuf. Wie Andrieus klassischer Napoleon in der Art römischer Kaiserportraits, der so oft in der Serie alas Vorderseite auftaucht, ist die Darstellung stark idealisiert. Das Gesicht ist prall und glatt. Die Haare sind fast so kurze wie auf Andrieus Porträt, fallen aber strähniger. Das abgehobene Kaiserporträt bringt Depaulis dem Zeitgenossen durch die Uniform näher. Die gleiche Vorderseite weist auch die nächste Medaille auf. Für den Stempel der Medaillenrückseite erhielt Brenet 3,000 Francs.” [Translation via Google Translate: A new portrait of Napoleon, created by the young medalist Depaulis [1792-1867] in 1813, is introduced on the obverse. Like Andrieu's classic Napoleon in the style of Roman imperial portraits that so often appears on the obverse in the series, the depiction is highly idealized. The face is plump and smooth. The hair is almost as short as in Andrieu's portrait, but is more lank. The detached imperial portrait brings Depaulis closer to his contemporaries through the uniform. [Not sure what this means!] The next medal [for the Battle of Wurtchen] also has the same obverse. Brenet received 3,000 francs for the engraving on the reverse of the medal.]

Post anything you deem relevant. 

Edited by DonnaML
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What a beautiful medal @DonnaML Congratulations.

One of my treasured dealers does not sell on the Internet , sells by paper catalogues and seldom attends coin fairs. He is an academic who is successful in another business and trades because he enjoys speaking and trading with collectors. His prices are based on his auction experiences with a fair profit margin and he recently confessed to me that he has packets of coins that have been unopened for 30 years and doesn't even know what is in them. 

I really appreciate the idea of a dealer cocooned from the Internet.

This interested me as tomorrow I am viewing the new production "Bonaparte" directed by Sir Ridley Scott. Napoleon is the archnemesis of my hero Nelson and it is always better to keep close to your friends and closer to your enemies......

Yes the obverse portrait is certainly in the style of the Roman Imperial Portraits, as indeed were the contemporary issues of George III and George IV but the reverse reminds me also of many Republican reverses featuring the dioscuri.

Thank you for sharing.

 

 

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1 hour ago, Dafydd said:

Yes the obverse portrait is certainly in the style of the Roman Imperial Portraits,

Thank you. I'm not entirely certain what the translated sentence from Zeitz was intended to convey, but I read it as saying that it was Napoleon's previous portrait, by Andrieu, that was in the style of Roman Imperial portraits. As I think these two examples (both from my 2023 "top French medals" post) -- one of them a uniface medal -- show unmistakably: 

NapoleonMontBlancSchoolofMinesmedal1805copy1.jpg.1481057600ab53f360a0043251c80c11.jpg

NapoleonEmpetRoiunifacemedalobversejpg.jpg.371b922585c26ab76e768f9808a29206.jpg

I am not sure whether Zeitz meant to imply that the new Depaulis military portrait was also in Roman Imperial style.

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That medal looks great, Congratulations on the buy! The other two as well, what a powerful image on the "Mont Blanc school of mines".

 

The detached imperial portrait brings Depaulis closer to his contemporaries through the uniform. [Not sure what this means!]

Das abgehobene Kaiserporträt bringt Depaulis dem Zeitgenossen durch die Uniform näher.

 

I see why Google translate had problems with that sentence, even as a native speaker finding the right words to convey his message isn´t the easiest task. The best I can do:

 

"Depaulis brings the raised portrait of the emperor closer to his contemporaries through the uniform"

 

I hope the sentence makes sense as I translated it, my translation is pretty close to the original sentence, which I find a bit complicated.

 

Curious though, that it´s called the battle of Lützen in English. I´ve grown up around Lützen, and in German the battle is called "Schlacht von Großgörschen" - a smaller town, closer to the actual battle, perhaps to avoid confusion with the way more famous (here, at least) 1632 battle. They actually started building a museum at Lützen, near the wildlife park I used to visit so often with my recently deceased grandmother, who lived in Lützen. The museum mainly focusses on the 1632 battle, I guess it´s thanks to Saxonys deep connection with protestantism that this battle is so much more famous.

But it should also cover the 1813 battle and the findings from the area connected to it. That is, if the government didn´t cut off the funding for it. which I´m not too mad about, since the museum itself, which has already been built in a terrible spot next to the beautiful old battle memorial, looks absolutely horrendous! Well, perhaps we will see a museum focussing on those battles in the future, your medal would certainly fit into it 😁

 

 

 

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Thanks, @Helvius Pertinax. The reverse of the Mont Blanc School of Mines medal might be my favorite out of all my Napoleonic medals. It's really quite atypical for the early 19th century, and I don't think it would have been out of place much later on. My writeup can be found as the fourth in my list at https://www.numisforums.com/topic/5462-donnamls-top-12-french-coins-and-medals-for-2023/#comment-70706 .

I appreciate your much better translation of that confusing sentence in the Zeitz description of the new Napoleon obverse on the Battle of Lutzen medal. If I understand correctly, the implication is that Depaulis's decision to put Napoleon in a current military uniform in very prominent relief -- by contrast to the previous Roman-style laureate head -- was a way of bringing Napoleon literally and figuratively "closer" to his contemporaries, i.e., closer to present time rather than to antiquity. And the medal is indeed in high relief, so much so that when I try to put it in a tray with the reverse side facing up, the medal wobbles alarmingly. So I am essentially forced to display it with Napoleon facing up.

 

Edited by DonnaML
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On 1/16/2024 at 9:59 PM, Dafydd said:

This interested me as tomorrow I am viewing the new production "Bonaparte" directed by Sir Ridley Scott.

I saw the movie already. I'm a bit ambivalent about it. I thought the story is not very well told, at least I found it often difficult to get why certain things happened. Napoleon is portrayed like a very troubled man, who is torn between his grand ambitions and his personal insecurities. I liked the fact that Scott ended the film by listing all the casualties that Napoleon's megalomania had caused. In a sense, Napoleon is portrayed like a French Hitler who should not be admired but dispised.

Edited by Tejas
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14 hours ago, Tejas said:

I saw the movie already. I'm a bit ambivalent about it. I thought the story is not very well told, at least I found it often difficult to get why certain things happened. Napoleon is portrayed like a very troubled man, who is torn between his grand ambitions and his personal insecurities. I liked the fact that Scott ended the film by listing all the casualties that Napoleon's megalomania had caused. In a sense, Napoleon is portrayed like a French Hitler who should not be admired but dispised.

I haven't seen it, but in watching the commercials for it I couldn't get past the scenes of Joaquin Phoenix playing the young Napoleon despite looking every one of his 49 years. I just can't suspend disbelief for that sort of thing; it's almost as bad as having middle-aged actors playing Romeo and Juliet, as was once the fashion.

Also, the scene of soldiers falling through the ice seemed to me like kind of a rip-off of the most famous scene in "Alexander Nevsky." Eisenstein did it better.

 

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True, the actors look the same from start to end despite the passage of some 30 years. In one scene Napoleon and Josefine get married in another scene Napoleon says “we have been married for 15 years now” and the viewer just didn’t get any sense that these years have past. More importantly, and I think this is a missed opportunity, the film conveys no sense of what drove Napoleon. Why was he so eager to be emperor and conquer large parts of Europe. Was it to protect the revolution, nationalism or personal ego? There is no attempt at an answer in the film. Also has he had any concern for the millions of people who died for his adventures. Again, no attempt at an answer.

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