A blood-stained cloth placed over Napoleon Bonaparte’s body goes on sale in an autopsy at an auction to mark the 200th anniversary of his death.
About 360 objects will be put on sale by auction house Osenat on May 5, in addition to other highlights including a lock of Napoleon’s hair, a pair of his silk stockings and a long-sleeved shirt embroidered with the letter ‘N’ in red stitching.
The blood-stained cloth is estimated to15,000 euros ($18,000). It comes with a note written in 1875 by the Duke of Bassano, whose father was gifted the bandage by the marquis of Montholon, a military general who followed Napoleon into exile on Saint Helena and stayed there until the emperor’s death.
“In this bloodstain you have the emperor’s DNA. You cannot get more intimate than that,” auctioneer Jean-Pierre Osenat told Reuters.
Many of the artefacts on sale were brought back from Longwood House, Bonaparte’s final residence, a musty-smelling house on the windswept, rat-infested island.
Moreover, the collection includes an ornate plate he used to dine off and a crystal goblet, as well as items of clothing.
“Napoleon owned a considerable number of shirts,”Osenat said. “He was obsessed with cleanliness to the extreme. He took three to four baths a day, got through 20 to 30 litres a month of cologne and was always changing his shirts.”
In the early 19th century, such hats were worn with the corners pointing front and back, but Bonaparte changed the angle to make himself noticed, according to Jean-Christophe Chataignier, director of the auction house’s Empire department.
“Napoloeon wanted to create a look,” Chataignier said.
The former French emperor died on May 5, 1821, aged 51, on the southern Atlantic Ocean island of Saint Helena, where he had been banished by the British following his defeat in 1815 at the Battle of Waterloo.