The Objects

28th May 1815

Source: © The National Trust, Waddesdon Manor (The Rothschild Collection); photo by University of Central England Digital Services.

The Napoleonic Brand

Contributed by: Phillippa Plock

Mounted as a king in a royal equestrian portrait, this tobacco label shows Napoleon in his Imperial regalia. Now part of a collection of trade cards at Waddesdon Manor, the label demonstrates how Napoleon’s image played into the creation of what we could describe as a ‘brand’ identity: he also appears on the label for the perfume or drink called ‘Eau de la Paix’ – Water of Peace, made by Claude Brun and Company, a Distilling Chemists from much earlier in his reign (acc. no. 3686.3.37.92, see http://collection.waddesdon.org.uk/search.do?view=detail&page=1&id=42437&db=object).

Another label for the same tobacco, also at Waddesdon, gives the location of manufacture as ‘S’ (acc. no. 3686.3.66.140). The word used on the label ‘knaster’ is German, so the tobacco may have been made in somewhere like Strasbourg where both French and German were in use. This was not the only example of Napoleon being associated with tobacco: a Paris tobacconist had the shop sign, 'Au Tabac du Grand Vainqueur', in the form of Napoleon riding into battle (now at Musée Carnavalet, see http://www.artdb.com/fr/oeuvre/au-tabac-du-grand-vainqueur/contexte/musee/musee-carnavalet/onglet/0/debut/5/facettes/). A poem on the back of the shop sign attributes the success of the Emperor to the tobacco.

The image of a heroic Napoleon being used to sell tobacco is a reminder that everyday life was full of positive depictions of the Emperor, perhaps influencing the level of popular support for this self-made man.

Geolocation