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"Napoleon and Henri IV" Chess Pieces

Artist/maker unknown, French

Made in France, Europe

Early 19th century


King (red): 4 1/2 inches (11.4 cm) Queen (red): 4 1/8 inches (10.5 cm) Rook (red): 4 inches (10.2 cm) Bishop (red): 3 1/4 inches (8.3 cm) Knight (red): 3 1/4 inches (8.3 cm) Pawn (red): 2 3/4 inches (7 cm) King (green): 4 1/2 inches (11.4 cm) Queen (green): 3 7/8 inches (9.8 cm) Rook (green): 4 inches (10.2 cm) Bishop (green): 3 3/8 inches (8.6 cm) Knight (green): 3 3/8 inches (8.6 cm) Pawn (green): 2 5/8 inches (6.7 cm)

Curatorial Department:
European Decorative Arts and Sculpture

Object Location:

Currently not on view

Accession Number:

Credit Line:
Gift of John F. Harbeson, 1964

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In the early nineteenth century French emperor Napoléon Bonaparte (1769–1821) was a popular subject for chess sets, appearing opposite a variety of historical figures. Here, the king and queen are represented on one side by Napoléon (in his familiar tricorne) and his wife Joséphine, and on the opposing side by the earlier French ruler King Henri IV (1553–1610) and his wife Marie de’ Medici. As is often the case in French sets, the bishop is replaced by a jester.