THE GALA BERLIN CARRIAGE
Created by Napoleon III’s favourite carriage-maker, the Paris-based Georges Ehrler, this remarkable vehicle – on loan from the Palace of Fontainebleau – was commissioned by Prince Nicolas Orlov (a Russian diplomat assigned to Paris). Restored in 2003 with the help of sponsorship from Maison Hermès, the carriage, with its eight-spring undercarriage, richly embossed lanterns and blue satin upholstered interior, is one of only fourteen such Berlins still existing in France. All that has come down to us of Ehrler’s creations is a total of fifty-two vehicles, thirty of which belong to private collections and foreign museums.
A roofless carriage with a low open body, designed for taking the city air, this gentlewoman’s “petit-duc” was commissioned by Princess Henri-Amédée de Broglie from the carriage-makers Belvalette. Equipped with a seat behind the body with room for one or two servants and lacking a coachman’s seat, the vehicle was driven by its owner, direct from its interior.
This light promenade carriage, with its dropped footwell and two wickerwork seats with room for two pairs of people facing each other, was designed by the Dosme brothers (carriage-makers based in Blois). Equipped behind with a wicker basket, it was used by the Broglie family and their guests for picnics, as well as for country outings and hunting meets.
Commissioned from Mühlbacher (a favourite court carriage-maker under Napoleon III), this landau was used by Princess de Broglie on her many shopping expeditions to Paris and to attend performances at the Opéra Garnier. A two-door vehicle with a dropped footwell and accommodating four passengers, it could be driven open or closed, with a pair of leather tops unfolding from footwell level and latching together above the doors.
This strikingly luxurious carriage, known as the Château Omnibus, was a Mühlbacher creation. Drawn by four horses or three abreast, the omnibus was used for travelling between railway station (the nearest one being in Onzain) and château, carrying luggage and guests, as well as for attending hunting meets and horse races.