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The Lucien Bonaparte fund

Michel Wittock’s children are directly descended from Lucien Bonaparte on their mother’s side, which explains why the Wittockiana conserves certain family effects, including an important collection of archives and documents relating to the brother of Napoleon and his family. An imposing bust of Lucien Bonaparte, Prince of Canino and Musignano, can be admired in the Wittockiana’s Council Room, surrounded by a library full of books from various periods.

The library’s showpiece is without a doubt the imposing series of 33 volumes forming the famous Encyclopédie ou Dictionnaire raisonné des Sciences, des Arts et des Métiers, Par une Société de Gens de Lettres (Paris, 1751–1777). Under the direction of Diderot and d’Alembert, over 200 eminent authors and experts collaborated in this vast project, one of the most ambitious undertaken in French publishing under the Ancien Régime. These precious volumes in speckled calf, most of which bear on their front cover the gilded emblemof the order of lawyers of Rennes and on the first inside cover the engraved bookplate of Prince Gabrielli, son-in-law of the Prince of Canino, were probably confiscated by Lucien Bonaparte when he was Minister for the Interior.

Another significant collection is the Correspondence of Napoleon Bonaparte, published by order of the Emperor Napoleon III (Paris, Imprimerie impériale, 1858–1869). This publication, printed on “grand papier”, comprises 32 volumes; it was printed for the Emperor and could not be bought commercially. This copy was given by Napoleon III to his cousin Prince Gabrielli.

The archives of the Lucien Bonaparte collection consist mainly of the handwritten memoirs, contained in a number ofnotebooks, of Princess Julie Bonaparte, who held a literary salon in Paris under the Second Empire. Both interesting and unusual, they are accompanied by a dozen family photo albums dating from the end of the first half of the 19th century.