Life-size design sketch of Bokassa I's scepter by Maison Arthus-Bertrand. The scepter was part of a complete set of coronation regalia ordered by Emperor Bokassa from Arthus-Bertrand, including an imperial crown (costing $2 million) and a crown of laurel leaves similar to Napoleon I's; a ceremonial sword; medals and grand collar; and Empress Catherine's jeweled tiara and crown of golden feathers. Altogether, the newly manufactured crown jewels cost about $5 million.
This sketch was presented to Bokassa for the realization of the scepter for his coronation as Emperor. Dated in pencil on the lower left "4 December 1976", it was approved "accord" and signed by Bokassa, with the date of the agreement amended from 1976 (the year of his proclamation) to 1977 (the year of his coronation). The designer drew the modifications specified by Bokassa in pencil, which were carried out in the final scepter. In addition to the date change, these included the addition of a layer of diamonds on the handle and on the words "Empire Centrafricain." The scepter stood 6 feet tall, with the sketch in our collection depicting the upper, more elaborate, half. The whereabouts of the scepter are unknown.
Maison Arthus-Bertrand was founded in Paris in 1803 and continues to design and manufacture medals, decorations, jewelry, and regalia for governments and heads of state. In addition to his scepter, Emperor Bokassa ordered a complete set of coronation regalia from Arthus-Bertrand, including an imperial crown and a crown of laurel leaves (similar to Napoleon I's); a ceremonial sword; medals and grand collar; and Empress Catherine's jeweled tiara and crown of golden feathers.
Medium & Techniques
Gouache and pencil on tracing paper.
Acquired from Benoit Drahonnet Antiquités of Taillant (Nouvelle-Aquitaine, France)
Purchased by Benoit Drahonnet in Charente-Maritime (Nouvelle-Aquitaine, France) "from the children of jewelers of Greek origin active in Africa in the 1960s and 1970s."