A Model of a Guillotine by a Napoleonic Prisoner of War

A Model of a Guillotine by a Napoleonic Prisoner of War

This incredible mini guillotine was carved out of bone by a French prisoner of war, living in the UK during the Napoleonic wars. These men had a lot of spare time, and would fashion objects out of whatever materials they could find, in this case bone. This is a particularly fine example, and was probably made by a man named Cruchet, who after the war went on to design enormous automata for the Paris Opera House.

The morbid subject matter was a favourite with British buyers, who were still fascinated by the bloodiness of the French Revolution. The tiny soldiers, with their menacing swords, surround a decapitated figure on the chopping block – originally his head would have sat in a tiny basket. There’s something particularly macabre about seeing such a gruesome scene acted out by these toy-like figures.



2 thoughts on “A Model of a Guillotine by a Napoleonic Prisoner of War

  1. Hello, I have a piece similar to this one and im trying to gather information on it including a place to have it repaired an possibly sold. I was wondering if you could offer any information?

    • Hi Nehemiah,

      This piece was actually being offered by a gallery that I work for in London, so if you have a similar piece that you would like to sell then I may be able to help you find a buyer. If you are still interested then please take some pictures of the piece and email them to me at kittywalsh@london.com

      Many thanks,


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