Etienne (Stephane) Baron de Pierres 1818-1876, was a politician, and the first squire (equerry – in charge of her horses) of the Empress Eugénie. He was a skilled horseman and famed for his racing stable. Today there is still a steeplechase (Prix Baron de Pierres) held in his name at Craon. Clearly he and Jane Thorn bonded over their love of horses and she was also remembered for being an extraordinary horsewoman.
I have found out a few small things about Etienne so far. Other than horses, he also owned a bastard (Belgian Shepherd) dog and was a member of the Chanveaux society. I assume that means it was a hunting dog.
Etienne’s job as equerry was to ride with Eugenie. “Every day at noon, Baron de Pierres, the American’s husband and equerry in charge of the stables, came to see if she (Eugenie) needed a carriage, and when she went for a drive he rode at its side.”
Obviously horses were his life. He was described as an athlete, which I imagine means he was kept fit from riding.
He developed a deep affection for Eugenie. I have a translation of a German ‘fiction’ text, which describes a scene where he gives Eugenie a gift owned by Marie Antoinette. It’s unclear if this was based on anecdote or imaginary, but displays a clear affection between them. As Eugenie was obsessed with Marie Antoinette, it would not surprise me if it was based on a true story. When Eugenie had to abdicate, he was present, and is remembered in recollections as pleading with her to do so.
From 1858 – 1871, he was a councillor at the Canton of Saint-Aignan-sur-Roe in Mayenne. And deputy of Mayenne from 1863 to 1870,
Alfred de Dreux painted The White Stable Lad, which bears the incription:
Le lad blanc et ses chevaux
signé, daté et inscrit ‘Alfred de Dreux/1844/Au Baron de Pierres’ (au verso)
I’m unclear whether it was commissioned, or a gift, or supposed to in some way represent Etienne as a boy.
Some of Etienne’s horses included:
Faute de Mieux by Gladiator, out of Margaret at M Lefevre’s stud
Pantalon – ? previously owned by Colonel Thorn
Stop by Tetotum out of Ringdove
Charlemagne by Paradox out of the Screw
Mytheme and Djali both by Caravan, imported by the French
Stella by Napoleon out of Midsummer
I will keep adding to this page with any snippets I uncover such as the fact that he held an Order of Isabella the Catholic. More to come!