Lieven Bauwens (1769-1822) was one of the few “Belgians” to enjoy an international reputation during the Revolution and the French Empire. He was analysing English industrial procedures when he decided, in 1798, to force the British blockade by shipping a loom, the Mule Jenny, to our country. Bauwens’ career, both swift and chaotic, was intimately linked with the economic history of the Belgian departments, and of the city of Ghent in particular. He for instance became the city’s mayor in 1800.
Napoleon visited his manufacture in 1810 and granted him the Légion d’Honneur. The weapons we acquired date from that period: to receive the Emperor Lieven Bauwens (and the entire Ghent elite) bought a uniform for an officer with the mounted guard. The objects were safeguarded by family members who settled in England after the undoing of the Bauwens family and the fall of the Empire. They were recuperated from the Brussels antiquarian Teugels and the Society of the Friends of the Military Museum was closely involved in this important acquisition.
The weapons complete the collection items the institution already has in this framework, viz. Bauwens’ bicorn hat from the honorary guard of the city of Ghent (inv. 300217), as well as the painting we have in loan from the Museums of Fine Arts (inv. 301331) representing Bauwens as mayor.