The inscription on the wine cooler reads ‘This wine cooler was used by the Emperor Napoleon at Longwood on the Island of St Helena, 1815-1821’. Made out of bronze and rich wood after the style of Greek Bacchanalian vases, it was made by the renowned furniture designer George Bullock at tax payers’ expense for Napoleon Bonaparte for his second exile on St Helena.
Before refrigeration, wine coolers (previously known as cellarettes) were a very important piece of furniture in the late 18th and early 19th century. The lidded cooler, lined inside with lead, was designed to ensure the wine remained cool and is compartmentalised to support wine bottles. The wine would have been placed into the cellarette from the cellar to keep it cool during the evening meal.
It was donated to the museum in 1944 and was originally bought at an auction of items belonging to Napoleon in Paris in 1822.