© National Museums of Scotland
Formerly in Hamilton Palace, South Lanarkshire, now
in the National Museums of Scotland
The 10th Duke of Hamilton
was able to buy the tea service of the
Emperor Napoleon from the French state in 1830 because it was
so covered with Napoleonic references that it could not be used
by King Charles X. Napoleon's coat of arms had been erased from
the sugar tongs and replaced with the Bourbon arms, but it had been
accepted that the other pieces could not be altered.
The sugar bowl illustrates the problem. The finial
representing the eagle of the chief god Zeus clutching a thunderbolt
(a very Napoleonic subject) could have been removed, but it would
have been almost impossible to cut away the crowned 'N's (for Napoleon),
Napoleon's coat of arms and the crowned imperial eagles on the base.
|Like many other pieces, the sugar bowl
was designed by Napoleon's architect and designer Charles Percier
(1764-1838) and a related drawing by Percier survives in the Musée
des Arts Decoratifs, Paris. Although it is referred to as a sugar
bowl or basin in the original invoice and later inventories, this
particular shape, with spoons fitting into the base, was also used
for preserves and jams. The bowl forms part of the second half of
the service and was acquired by the National Museums of Scotland in
1976, with aid from the National Art Collections Fund.