© Paris - Musée de l'Armée, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Pascal Segrette

Vizir, an Arabian horse given by the Sultan of Turkey to Napoleon in 1808

The naturalised horse at the Army Museum in Paris could be Vizir, one of Napoleon’s favourite mounts. One can make out the Imperial "N" on the animal’s thigh. Sometime between 1801 and 1802, the Sultan of Turkey offered this thoroughbred Arabian horse to the Emperor. It was mounted several times in combat, e.g. at Eylau in 1807. This was the majestic horse painted by Horace Vernet in 1812 at the request of Grand Equerry Caulaincourt. First naturalised in 1826, he was removed from his display case and then exported to British soil where the Manchester Natural History Society stuffed it in 1843 before offering it to Napoleon III in 1868. Deposited in the reserves of the Sovereigns’ Museum (Louvre), it was then forgotten. It was not until 1904 that it was found and recovered by the director of the Army Museum.