Tuesday’s Royal Trinket: Caroline Murat’s Parure

© The Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Collection on loan to the Victoria & Albert Museum.

Today we are traveling back in time to the Napoleonic era.

Caroline Murat (1782-1839), born Maria Annunziata Carolina Bonaparte, was a younger sister of Napoleon I. In 1800 she married one of her brother’s decorated marshals, Joachim Murat. In 1808, Napoleon installed Joachim as King of Naples. Caroline and Joachim had four children together. Sadly their marriage was not a long one as Joachim was executed after the fall of Napoleon, in 1815.

Wikimedia Commons. Caroline Murat and her daughter Letizia in 1807. Painting by Élisabeth Vigée-Lebrun.

As wife and consort, Caroline was entitled to be known as Queen of Naples. From time to time, Caroline also acted as Joachim’s regent. As such, she required beautiful jewelry befitting of her royal status. One such jewelry set might have been this gold parure.

© The Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Collection on loan to the Victoria & Albert Museum.

The parure includes a comb, tiara, earrings and necklace. The jewelry is composed of lapis lazuli, chalcedony and gold. The technique used on the jewelry is called pietre dure; this means stones were cut in such a way as to be able to set them and create pictures with the cut stone, almost like a mosaic. This was a popular technique in Florence during the 17th century, but Caroline’s parure was made in 1808.

© The Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Collection on loan to the Victoria & Albert Museum.

It’s not certain that this set belonged to Caroline, but it’s a high probability. The accompanying leather box is stamped with a crowned “C” in gold. As for the location of where this parure was made, there is evidence in the archives of the Opificio (the Grand Ducal Workshop) in Florence and in the archives in Naples that suggests this parure may have been produced in either Florence or Naples.

I’d like to believe the set did indeed belong to Caroline. The jewelry fits the Napoleonic era, Caroline’s domicile and her style.

What happened to Caroline? After her husband’s execution, she took refuge in the Austrian Empire. She married again, but did not have any children with her second husband. Caroline died in 1839 at the age of 57 and is buried in Florence.

2 thoughts on “Tuesday’s Royal Trinket: Caroline Murat’s Parure

  1. I love pietra dura and having a tiara made using that technique is just wonderful! Such a great idea!! It’s not necessary to use diamonds always to create a stunning piece. Maybe not in today’s taste, but I must say I do like this parure. Must look quite dramatic against blond hair.

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