Feature January 2013

“Vive L’Empereur!” Napoleon III, Baxter or Le Blond?

It can be difficult to determine whether a print is George Baxter's original or a later printing by Le Blond & Co. utilising Baxter's original plates and blocks.

In the case of Baxter's print “Vive L’Empereur!” Napoleon III, catalogued by Courtney Lewis as CL no. 227, it is further complicated as George Baxter altered the key plate of his first version of Napoleon III (Napoleon with short moustache, CL 229) to produce this version with a long moustache.

Vive L’Empereur! Napoleon III by George Baxter showing the three and a half buttons


Vive L’Empereur! Napoleon III by Le Blond showing only three buttons
Vive L’Empereur! Napoleon III by Le Blond showing only three buttons
When George Baxter altered the plate to produce the version with the long moustache he removed the definition from the button half covered by the sash but never changed the colour blocks so the half button looks less defined than the other buttons.

When Le Blond acquired the plate he rectified Baxter's omission by making the red sash wider to cover the half button.

So one easy way of determining if the print is the Baxter or Le Blond publication is to count the buttons; Baxter has three and a half and Le Blond has three.

Le Blond's signature low down on the print

Baxter never signed his print but Le Blond signed his low down on the right "Le Blond & Co., Licensees." It is not easy to read the signature even in the magnified view shown and as with many prints produced by Le Blond from Baxter's plates, they can often be found with the bottom including the signature cut off in an attempt by some unscrupulous collector to pass the Le Blond as a more desirable Baxter!