French Prisoner of War Ship Model, Le Héros
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French Prisoner of War Ship Model, Le Héros

French Prisoner of War Ship Model, Le Héros

  • This incredible ship model was carved by a French prisoner during the Napoléonic Wars
  • The 74-gun ship displays exceptional detailing, from the deck planking to the rigging
  • Complex in size and artistry, the monumental objet d'art is handcrafted of mutton bone
  • The museum-quality ship comes encased in a custom glass display box
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Item No. 30-6083
$98,500
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description
Incredibly rare and stunningly beautiful, this intricately carved ship model was created by a French prisoner during the Napoléonic Wars. Entitled "Le Héros", the model depicts a 74-gun ship-of-the-line of the French navy. This vessel fought during the famed Battle of Trafalgar under Commander Poulain, and was one of just five French ships that survived the battle. In 1808, the ship was captured and many of its sailors were sent to British prisoner of war camps. One of those sailors crafted this incredible model ship while being detained. Meticulously handcrafted from bone, this objet d'art is impeccable from stern to bow.

During the lengthy conflict between Napoléon and the United Kingdom, many French soldiers spent extended periods of time (sometimes years) in British prisons. In order to offset the cost of their care, the prisoners (many of whom were artisans and skilled craftsmen long before serving as soldiers) were allowed to create goods to be sold to English civilians. By many accounts, Napoleonic prisoners of war were confined to mostly makeshift prisons in old castles, naval dockyards and purpose-built camps. Though treated fairly well, prisoners were typically kept in rather dark conditions and were not allowed to have objects that could be used as weapons, including tools. That means inmates would have had to create these amazing models using handmade tools using scraps of whatever was available, including shards of glass for carving; an activity that was most likely done by candlelight. With this perspective, the precision and intricacy of this model becomes even more awe inspiring.

This important piece comes housed in a museum-quality, custom-crafted glass case.

Circa 1808

25" high x 41" wide x 15" deep
specifications
Period: 18th Century
Origin:France
Type:Other
Width:41 Inches
Height:25 Inches
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