The gold diadem of Grand Duchess Stéphanie von Baden (née de Beauharnais) is set with pearls and diamonds. Since Stéphanie spent time at Napoleon’s court, the diadem was probably made in Paris. It’s remarkable that even though it was made in the beginning of the 19th century, the bejeweled headpiece remains in such excellent condition.
Napoleon adopted his wife Joséphine’s cousin, Stéphanie, and bestowed upon her an imperial rank. In a dynastic match to consolidate power, Napoleon arranged the marriage of Stéphanie to Hereditary Grand Duke Carl von Baden. Though they produced five children, it wasn’t a happy marriage. After Carl’s death, Stéphanie enjoyed widowhood very much and never remarried. Instead, she cultivated the arts and acted as a much-loved hostess of literary salons.
After Stéphanie died in 1860, her daughter Joséphine von Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen, inherited the headpiece. Over the years, however, the diadem changed hands several times. In 1930 it came into the ownership of Marie José of Belgium, spouse to Crown Prince Umberto of Italy, who later became the month-long King Umberto II. (In this image, Marie José of Belgium wears the diadem low across her forehead.) Eventually it was acquired by the State of Baden-Württemberg for Mannheim Palace, where it remains on permanent display.
Mannheim Baroque Palace