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.

The Manchester Tiara

© The Victoria and Albert Museum

Today’s tiara belonged to an American woman who married into the British aristocracy. The Manchester Tiara was made by Cartier in 1903 for Consuelo, Dowager Duchess of Manchester (1853-1909). 

The heart-shaped scrolls give this tiara a very romantic feel, don’t you think? It’s set with thousands of rose-cut diamonds, most of them supplied by the Dowager Duchess herself. Mr. Cartier, when planning the tiara’s design, asked his designers do draw inspiration from the 18th century ironworks of Paris and Versailles. This was a fitting design inspiration because Consuelo spent the early years of her life in Paris.

The Dowager Duchess of Manchester was born Miss Consuelo Yznaga in 1853 in New York City. She was one of four children born to Cuban-born millionaire Antonio Yznaga del Valle and his American-born wife Ellen Maria Clement of New Orleans.

Even though the Yznagas were wealthy, the family was met with suspicion by the upper echelons of American society. On top of being classified as nouveau riche (new money) by the established families, the Yznagas had “foreign lineage” which made them less desirable to socialize with. (To put things in perspective, the Astors were old money.)

Wikimedia Commons. Consuelo, painted by John Singer Sargent.

Nevertheless, Consuelo grew up happy and loved by her parents. Because the Yznagas were shunned by America’s top families, they spent most of their time in Paris where they received a very warm welcome by Empress Eugénie and her circle. After the fall of the Second Empire, the Yznagas relocated to London.

Consuelo became one of the first “Dollar Princesses” when she married George Victor Drogo Montagu, the future 8th Duke of Manchester. His family was initially not pleased with the match. They had never met the bride before the engagement and could not comprehend having an American daughter-in-law. They even tried to stop the wedding from happening. However, the family was won over by Consuelo and the wedding took place in 1876 in New York City.

Though it was not a happy marriage (both had extramarital affairs), Consuelo paved the way for other Americans to marry into aristocratic families.

The Manchester Tiara, with its heart-shaped motif, was a fitting choice for a sentimental American woman who forged a place for herself within British society. Today the tiara belongs to the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Sources

American Heiresses of the Gilded Age by Melissa Ziobro (The Great Courses)

The Victoria and Albert Museum

To Marry an English Lord by Gail MacColl and Carol McD. Wallace

Snapshots of Royal History through Paintings: Investiture of Napoleon III

© Royal Collection Trust

A 19th century English painting by Edward Matthew Ward depicts the investiture of Emperor Napoleon III. The Emperor was bestowed with the Order of the Garter on April 16, 1855.

Background

At Queen Victoria’s invitation, Emperor Napoleon III and Empress Eugénie arrived in England on April 16, 1855 for an official state visit. They arrived at the port in Dover on their royal yacht Pélican where they were met by Prince Albert. The French Imperial Couple spent three days at Windsor and three days at Buckingham Palace in London. Some of the events included a state dinner at Windsor, a visit to the opera in London and a military review.

The Painting

As part of the state visit, Napoleon III received the Order of the Garter. As depicted in the painting, the investiture took place in the Throne Room at Windsor Castle. You can spot Queen Victoria bestowing the Order on Napoleon III. The painting boasts a number of fine details of this event because Queen Victoria allowed the painter to observe the investiture. Queen Victoria’s ladies-in-waiting are looking on behind her. Prince Albert, adorned in his own Garter robes, is standing right behind Napoleon III. On the far right you can spot a seated Eugénie wearing her Pearl and Diamond Tiara. Next to her is a young Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII) and right behind her chair stands a young Princess Royal (later Empress Friedrich).

The Order of the Garter

In 1348, King Edward III was so enchanted by the mythical tales of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table that he set up his own group of knights, called the Order of the Garter. Today the Order is the oldest and highest Order of Chivalry that can be bestowed upon a British citizen.

History

Napoleon III reigned until his defeat during the Franco-Prussian War in 1870. He was imprisoned for a short time at Schloss Wilhelmshöhe in Kassel, Germany. After his release, he and Eugénie took refuge in England. Napoleon III died in 1873; Eugénie died in 1920. Their only child, Louis-Napoléon, was killed at age 23 in 1879 while fighting in the Anglo-Zulu War.

I hope you enjoyed reading this snapshot. I have a few more up my sleeve. Stay tuned!

Sources

Royal Collection Trust

The Royal Household

Empress Eugénie’s Diamond Bow Brooch

© The Royal Archivist. Please do not duplicate.Apologies, this image is not the best quality. I snapped the picture during a visit to a crowded Louvre Museum on a hot summer day.

After a public auction in 1887, the French Crown Jewels were sold and dispersed around the world. However, after more than a century away, some of those jewels would find their way home. We’ve already talked about Empress Eugénie’s Pearl and Diamond Tiara returning home to France. Let’s take a look at another bejeweled treasure once owned by Empress Eugénie.

Wikimedia Commons. Empress Eugénie painted by Winterhalter, 1853. She is wearing her Pearl and Diamond Tiara.

Eugénie de Montijo, a Spanish countess, was born in Granada, Spain in 1826. She became the last Empress of France when she married Napoleon III in 1853. Empress Eugénie, a fashionista, was considered one of the most beautiful queens of her era. As such, she commissioned a number of bejeweled items. One such item was the Diamond Bow Brooch made in 1855 by Parisian jeweler François Kramer.

The Diamond Bow Brooch was originally meant to be used as a belt buckle, however Empress Eugénie, to accommodate her fashionable needs, had it converted into a stomacher. Her jeweler enhanced the brooch’s grandeur by adding five diamond pampilles, a design that imitates icicle-shaped cascades, and a pair of diamond tassels.

Wikimedia Commons. Caroline Astor in the 1850s.

After Napoleon III lost his throne, the brooch, along with the other French royal jewels, was sold in the infamous auction of 1887. This particular piece was bought by jeweler Emile Schlesinger on behalf of Mrs. Caroline Astor (1830-1908), the famous Astor millionaire and matriarch. It stayed with the Astor family for over 100 years. The family even referred to it as “Mrs. Astor’s diamond stomacher.” After her death in 1908, Mrs. Astor’s jewelry collection was dispersed between her five children. Exactly one hundred years later, the brooch was being prepared to be sold at auction via Christie’s.

When the Louvre and the Friends of the Louvre learned that this French 19th century brooch was up for auction they couldn’t allow the historic brooch to slip through their fingers. Christie’s must have been in agreement because at the last minute the brooch’s public auction, scheduled for April 15, 2008, was cancelled. Instead, with the full support of the brooch’s owner, a private sale was conducted between Friends of the Louvre and François Curiel, the President of Christie’s Europe.

The Diamond Bow Brooch has been on public display at the Louvre Museum ever since.

Sources

Christie’s: The Jewellery Archives Revealed by Vincent Meylan

Christie’s Press Releases

Empress Eugénie’s Coronation Crown

© The Royal Archivist. Please do not duplicate.

Yesterday when we chatted about Empress Eugénie’s pearl and diamond tiara, we also had a glimpse of her coronation crown. The crown was nestled within Winterhalter’s painting of Eugénie wearing her pearl and diamond tiara. So I thought you might like to see a photograph of the bejeweled crown.

Gabriel Lemonnier, who became the crown jeweler in 1853, designed and created the coronation crowns of Napoleon III and his consort, Eugénie. While the original coronation crown of Napoleon III is lost to history, Eugénie’s coronation crown is intact and on display at the Louvre Museum. Her crown is a smaller, lighter version of the crown made for Napoleon III.

Wikimedia Commons. The coronation crown is depicted on Eugénie’s coat of arms.

It’s a unique piece; eight of the crown’s arches are shaped like the wings of eagles. The other arches are diamond-studded palmettes. The gold globe and cross are also made of diamonds. In total, there are 2,480 diamonds and 56 emeralds.

What do you think of Eugénie’s coronation crown?

Sources

The Louvre Museum

Empress Eugénie’s Pearl and Diamond Tiara

© The Royal Archivist. Please do not duplicate.

Empress Eugénie, consort of Napoleon III, was the owner of numerous magnificent jewels and tiaras. Though many of her jewels were made by court jeweler Bapst, other jewelers also had a hand in creating jewelry for her. Today’s subject is Empress Eugénie’s beautiful pearl and diamond tiara created by jeweler Gabriel Lemonnier.

The tiara has 212 drop-shaped and round pearls weighing 2,520 metric grams. The pearls are surrounded by 1,998 small diamonds weighing 63.3 carats. The tiara was once accompanied by a matching coronet, which had 274 round and drop-shaped pearls, though sadly this piece is now lost to history.

Wikimedia Commons. In this portrait by Winterhalter, Eugénie is wearing her pearl and diamond tiara. Also, note her custom-made coronation crown sitting on the pillow.

Unfortunately, along with the other crown jewels, the tiara was sold in 1887. It came into the possession of a German princely family, Thurn und Taxis, where the tiara remained intact through the years.

Wikimedia Commons. In this reproduction of Winterhalter’s portrait, you can catch a better glimpse of the coronet that once accompanied the tiara.

Decades later, in 1980, the pearl headpiece was worn as a bridal tiara on the wedding day of Countess Gloria von Schönburg-Glauchau to Johannes, 11th Prince of Thurn und Taxis. When the prince died ten years later, Gloria had to sell the tiara to settle financial debt.

The Louvre Museum purchased the tiara, returning it home to France, where it’s been on display ever since.

Sources

The Louvre Museum

Tiaras: A History of Splendour by Geoffrey C. Munn

Grand Duchess Stéphanie von Baden’s Emerald Necklace and Earrings

Wikimedia Commons

In the portrait by François Gérard, Grand Duchess Stéphanie von Baden is wearing her emerald and diamond necklace and earrings. It’s safe to assume that her necklace and earrings were part of a larger, grander parure, which would have included the bracelets and tiara seen in the Gérard portrait.

The emerald parure was a wedding gift to Stéphanie from Napoleon and his consort Joséphine. Stéphanie’s arranged marriage to Carl von Baden took place in 1806. Therefore the parure was probably made around 1806 by the court jeweler, Nitot et Fils.

© The Royal Archivist. Please do not duplicate.

The stones are set in gold and silver. The briolette emeralds dominate the necklace but otherwise the parure is fairly streamlined and simplistic in style, as was typical of the fashion in Napoleon’s court.

It’s not clear how the jewels were passed down through the generations. Stéphanie had three daughters who survived her. Perhaps one of them inherited the parure. Or perhaps the set stayed in Baden with the successive Grand Dukes.

Wikimedia Commons

The Grand Duchy of Baden ceased to exist in 1918. However, sometime after Stéphanie’s death in 1860 and before World War II, the emerald parure must have been broken up because only the earrings and necklace came into the possession of new buyers, Count and Countess Tagliavia.

Later, Countess Tagliavia donated the demi-parure to the Victoria and Albert Museum where the necklace and earrings remain on permanent display. I was able to view the emeralds in person and I can confirm they are stunning.

Sources

Mannheim Baroque Palace

The Victoria and Albert Museum

Grand Duchess Stéphanie von Baden’s Pearl Diadem

Wikimedia Commons

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.

Wikimedia Commons. Grand Duchess Stéphanie is wearing her French diadem.

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.

Sources

Mannheim Baroque Palace

Crown of Napoleon

© The Royal Archivist. Please do not duplicate.

After claiming the throne of France, Napoleon Bonaparte commissioned the creation of a coronation crown. He referred to it as the “Crown of Charlemagne.” Perhaps, in his ambition to rule all of Europe, he envisioned himself as a modern-day Charlemagne. The medieval-style crown lacks gemstones, but is made of gold, shell cameos and carnelians. It’s topped with a small gold globe and a cross.

In 1887 the French Third Republic sold most of the crown jewels in the hopes that it would prevent a return of the monarchy. However, they kept a few items, such as Napoleon’s coronation crown, for historic purposes. Today it’s on display in the Louvre Museum.

Sources

The Louvre Museum