Portrait of Verchère de Reffye

An ordnance officer of Napoleon III, Jean-Baptiste Auguste Verchère de Reffye was director of the emperor’s artillery workshop at Meudon.

© RMN - Grand Palais (musée d'Archéologie nationale)/Tony Querrec

An ordnance officer of Napoleon III, Jean-Baptiste Auguste Verchère de Reffye, director of the emperor’s artillery workshop at Meudon and of the arms and cannon manufactory at Tarbes, was not only the inventor of the Reffye Mitrailleuse.

A passion for ancient arms

With a keen interest in archaeology and military history, Verchère de Reffye closely followed the work of the Commission de Topographie des Gaules and was particularly interested in the excavations at Alise-Sainte-Reine. In seeking to reproduce ballistae, onagers and catapults, he prefigured experimental archaeology.

One of the designers of the musée gallo-romain

In addition, with his involvement in the creation of the musée gallo-romain, the future musée d’Archéologie nationale, he laid the foundations of a historical museum devoted to archaeology. His notes for emperor Napoleon III, today conserved at the Archives nationales, recommended the creation of a scientific museum in which archaeological objects, casts, maps, drawings, models, books and archive pieces would contribute to teaching the history of the peoples who had lived on French soil.