Box with Portrait of Napoleon I
Rule by Gifts: Napoleon’s Box
story by Wang Haoran, Hung Hsuan Ying, Hseuh Kai, Lo Teng Ian, Ha Man Wai
This story was created as part of a course taught by Mario Cams at the University of Macau. This exquisite box reflects the strength of France under Napoleon’s rule. Not only do the gold, diamonds, and ivory used to make the box reflect the vast resources Napoleon acquired through his imperial ambitions, the box also features a masterfully carved portrait of Napoleon on ivory by one of Europe’s most famous miniature painters, Jean-Baptiste Isabey. At the time the box was produced, Napoleon was no longer the textbook general who would charge and kill with guile; he was the revered emperor who was worshipped by millions. How does the box reflect this shift? Why was it produced and for whom?