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

Cut-Steel Jewelry

A cut-steel button via the Victoria and Albert Museum.

The Victoria and Albert Museum in London has a fabulous permanent exhibit on jewelry and gemstones. The William and Judith Bollinger Gallery boasts tiaras of royal provenance, historical cameos, precious gemstones and other treasures. During my last visit, I truly enjoyed learning about their cut-steel jewelry. Cut-steel is a brightly polished metal with faceted decoration. What makes it unique is that the jewelry glitters like a diamond without a single gemstone in its settings.

According to Geoffrey Munn in Tiaras: A History of Splendour, this type of jewelry was popular from the second half of the 18th century until 1900. When worn in candlelight (can you imagine a 19th century ball lit by candlelight?) the polished facets of the metal sparkled like diamonds. Munn stressed that cut-steel jewelry was not considered paste and would have been quite valuable in its day.

Napoleon’s first consort, Joséphine, owned two suites of cut-steel jewelry. It’s possible that her cut-steel tiaras are the same ones worn today by the ladies of the Swedish royal family. 

Crown Prince Oscar and Princess Joséphine of Leuchtenberg during their wedding. Photo of painting by Alexis Daflos, the Royal Collections.

How are we certain of this fact? Well, Empress Joséphine’s granddaughter and namesake, Joséphine of Leuchtenberg (the daughter of her son Eugène de Beauharnais), married Crown Prince Oskar of Sweden in 1823, eventually becoming Queen Josefina of Sweden. Eugène’s sister, Hortense de Beauharnais who was the mother of Napoleon III, did not have any daughters. Presumably, the future Queen Josefina inherited her aunt Hortense’s cut-steel tiaras.

Embed from Getty Images

It’s highly likely that the Napoleonic Cut-Steel Tiara, worn above by Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden, might have been one of the cut-steel tiaras Joséphine of Leuchtenberg brought with her to Sweden.

Sources

Tiaras: A History of Splendour by Geoffrey C. Munn

The Victoria and Albert Museum

The Duchess of Angoulême Emerald Tiara

© The Royal Archivist. Please do not duplicate.

The Duchess of Angoulême Emerald Tiara was created by Maison Bapst, jeweler to the French Court, for the only surviving child of King Louis XVI and Queen Marie Antoinette, Princess Marie-Thérèse Charlotte of France.

The tiara was created many years after the French Revolution; between September 1819 and July 1820 with stones already in the French Treasury. It’s made out of gold. The emeralds and diamonds are set in silver. The large center emerald weighs almost 16 carats. The tiara is set with 40 emeralds for a total weight of 79.12 carats. The emeralds are surrounded by over one thousand diamonds. (1,031 to be exact.)

Princess Marie-Thérèse, Duchess of Angoulême, may have been in need of regal jewelry because in 1799 she married an heir to the throne, her first cousin Louis Antoine, Duke of Angoulême, son of Louis XVI’s younger brother, Charles X. (As an aside, the Duke of Angoulême briefly reigned as Louis XIX for about 20 minutes, before he abdicated.)

© The Royal Archivist. Please do not duplicate.

Later, the emerald and diamond tiara became the favorite tiara of the beautiful Empress Eugénie, wife of Napoleon III. After the defeat of Napoleon III in 1870, the jewel became the property of the state. However, the French sold it in 1887, along with the other crown jewels.

In modern times, the tiara came into the possession of Lady Belinda Lambton, wife of the Conservative Defense Minster, Lord Lambton. Throughout Lady Lambton’s ownership, it was kept safe inside Wartski’s vaults. Before Lord Lambton’s death in 2006, it was sold to the Louvre, where it’s been on display ever since.

Sources

Tiaras: A History of Splendour by Geoffrey C. Munn

Wartski: The First One Hundred and Fifty Years by Geoffrey C. Munn

The Diamond known as “The Regent”

© The Royal Archivist. Please do not duplicate.

The cushion cut 140 carat diamond, known as The Regent, was discovered in India in 1698. The diamond was acquired by the French Regent, Philippe d’Orléans, in 1717 and has been on display at the Louvre since 1887.

According to the Louvre Museum:

Taking advantage of the economic prosperity that developed in France under the influence of John Law, Philippe d’Orléans, regent from 1715 to 1723, persuaded the Regency Council to purchase the diamond on 6 June 1717. At the time, The Regent outshone all known diamonds in the western world, and by 1719 it had already tripled in value. Today, it is still considered the finest diamond in the world; its color is “of the first water”, that is perfectly white and practically flawless. After the Regency, the gem remained one of the most precious of the Crown’s treasures and adorned all the crowned heads of France.

Louvre Museum

The Regent was worn for the first time by Louis XV at the reception of a Turkish embassy in 1721. It was then mounted temporarily on the king’s crown for his coronation ceremony on 25 October 1722. Shortly after his marriage to Maria Leczinska on 5 September 1725, Louis XV began wearing the diamond on his hat, a habit he continued throughout his reign. For the coronation of Louis XVI, on 11 June 1775, a new crown was made similar to that of Louis XV, featuring The Regent on the front. Like his grandfather, Louis XVI sported the gem on his hat. Stolen in 1792, then found again the following year hidden in some roof timbers, the diamond was used as security on several occasions by the Directoire and later the Consulat, before being permanently redeemed by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1801. The First Consul used it to embellish his sword, designed by the goldsmiths Odiot, Boutet and Nitot. In 1812 it appeared on the Emperor’s two-edged sword, the work of Nitot. Following changes in the ruling regime, the diamond was mounted successively on the crowns of Louis XVIII, Charles X and Napoleon III, and finally on the Grecian diadem of Empress Eugénie*.

Louvre Museum

Sources

The Louvre Museum

*Painting of Empress Eugénie wearing the diadem with the Regent.