Tuesday’s Royal Trinket: The Crown of Christian V

The Crown of Christian V. Via Wikimedia Commons.

Crowns are a symbol of absolute power. Therefore it makes sense that Denmark, one of the oldest monarchies in the world, has crowns dating all the way back to the 1500s.

The Crown of Christian V dates back to 1671. It was used by Christian V (1646-1699) and worn by all successive kings up until Christian VIII (1786–1848). After Christian VIII, the crown was no longer used for coronations or anointments because in 1849 Denmark adopted a constitutional monarchy. Being crowned or anointed wasn’t appropriate since Danish kings had limited powers and the public probably didn’t like the “anointed by God” explanation (just my guess!).

The official portrait of King Christian V, circa 1685.

“Its rounded braces create a closed form inspired by the crown of  the French king, Louis XIV, and symbolise the ruler’s absolute power. The crown’s braces meet at the top in a globe, or orb, which is a sign of power and dignity for monarchs. On top of the crown’s globe is a little cross, which in the symbolic language of the time showed that only the church stood above The Crown.” – The Danish Monarchy (You can understand why constitutional monarchs no longer wear crowns!!)

The crown was created by German goldsmith Paul Kurtz in Copenhagen. It’s made of gold and decorated with stones and enamel pieces. The crown holds a red velvet cap. You’ve probably seen the crown’s image in the Danish coat of arms.

The crown is on display at Rosenborg Castle, along with the other crown jewels.

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.

Tuesday’s Royal Trinket: Engagement ring of Princess Mary Adelaide

© Royal Collection Trust

Prince Francis of Teck proposed to Princess Mary Adelaide with a gold ring. The ring is set with five table-cut rectangular Burmese rubies and twelve diamonds. The engagement ring, with its open setting, is very much traditional looking and would not look out of place today. The inside of the ring is inscribed with “Franz, April 6, 1866.” Mary and Francis were the parents of Mary of Teck, the future spouse of George V.

Tuesday’s Royal Trinket: The Blue Serpent Clock Egg by Fabergé

© The Royal Archivist. Photograph from an exhibit at Hillwood Museum. Apologies for the poor picture quality.

It’s always fascinating tracking the history and provenance of Fabergé items. Today’s trinket, the Blue Serpent Clock Egg by Fabergé, is nestled within the gilded halls of the Palais de Monaco. For a short time the egg was almost lost to history. Almost. Even the Grimaldi family was not aware of its provenance.

Here is the background:

Emperor Alexander III commissioned Fabergé for an easter egg as a gift for his wife, Empress Maria Feodorovna. However, the emperor died in 1894 and the Blue Serpent Clock Egg was not finished until 1895.* Instead, the Fabergé item became the very first egg the new tsar, Nicholas II, presented to his mother for Easter in 1895.

The Blue Serpent Clock Egg is a fitting tribute from a deceased husband to his beloved wife because the egg, made of gold, enamel and diamonds, represents love. Trails of roses are entwined on top of the enameled clock. If you look closely, you’ll note that the clock’s hand is a diamond-encrusted snake. A snake is no longer considered romantic, but it used to signify eternity. And if we dig a little deeper, perhaps the egg also alludes to eternal love because true love transcends a scant ticking clock. This egg functioned as a proper clock and was not made to hold a surprise.

After the revolution, the Blue Serpent Clock Egg made its way to the fabled vaults of Wartski. In 1972, Greek shipping tycoon Stavros Niarchos purchased the Blue Serpent Clock Egg from Wartski. It is at this point in time that the egg disappeared from history.

Wartski lost track of the egg until they received a letter in 1990 penned by His Serene Highness Prince Rainier III of Monaco. In the letter, the prince explained that the egg was given to him many years earlier by Mr. Niarchos. The prince was unaware of its imperial provenance until Wartski provided him with a history of the clock. Prince Rainier even loaned it to Wartski for an exhibit.

Today the egg is part of the personal collection of His Serene Highness Prince Albert II of Monaco. It is generally not on view, but you may be able to spot it at exhibitions around the world. I was lucky enough to have seen it at Hillwood Museum in Washington, D.C.

PS. You can find two more Fabergé eggs (with much better photographs) here.

*Earlier reports date this egg to 1897, but today it is certain that it was made in St. Petersburg in 1895.

Sources

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

Fabergé Revealed exhibit at Hillwood Museum

Tiara Thursday: The Lotus Flower Tiara

You may recognize today’s tiara because it was worn at a 2015 state banquet by the Duchess of Cambridge! The Lotus Flower Tiara was a gift from Queen Mary to Queen Elizabeth (The Queen Mother). The Queen Mother later gave it to Princess Margaret, who loaned it to her daughter-in-law, Serena, to wear as her wedding diadem. Quite a historic tiara with so many outings!

Geoffrey Munn describes the tiara as “Egyptian inspired.” Indeed, the tiara is arranged in a line of diamond encrusted lotus flowers and arches. It’s studded with two pearls at its base and topped with a large natural pearl.

I am not sure of the ownership of this tiara, but since it was more recently seen on the Duchess of Cambridge I can only surmise that after the death of Princess Margaret it returned to Queen Elizabeth II.

I like that the tiara seems to be flexible. The Queen Mother wore it low across her forehead, as was the style. The Duchess of Cambridge wore it up higher. It’s wonderful when a tiara can be adjusted for a new era!

Here’s hoping to seeing this tiara again very soon!

Sources

Tiaras: A History of Splendour by Geoffrey C. Munn

Scheduling Update

Photo by Jonas Von Werne on Pexels.com

Hello, friends. I just wanted to give you a scheduling update for the blog. The regular posting days will be Tuesdays and Thursdays, but there will be bonus posts as time permits.

The good news is that I am currently writing a few longer pieces on historical royal jewelry that I hope to have ready for you soon.

Thank you for reading!

Christie’s: The Jewellery Archives Revealed by Vincent Meylan

I have one more book to share with you for this week. Christie’s: The Jewellery Archives Revealed by Vincent Meylan is a treasure trove of royal jewelry secrets. The author was given permission to view Christie’s extensive archives and this book is the result of his painstaking research.

The book is cleverly divided by themes. Each chapter takes on a specific theme and then breaks it down even further by the royal, their jewelry and the history of the jewelry. For example the first chapter is titled Guillotine Diamonds and discusses Madame La Comtesse du Barry and her jewelry. The second chapter focuses on the murdered queens/kings: Mary, Queen of Scots, Marie Antoinette of France, Draga of Serbia and Ludwig II and their valuables.

There are a number of well-written and well-researched articles tracing the history of royal jewelry. The photographs are plentiful and spectacular! The author also includes plenty of illustrations, portraits and old sales receipts/slips from the auctions. It’s really a gem of a book and I’ve gotten lost for hours within its pages.

It’s hard to choose which royal jewelry book to buy, but this one really is a good choice. I’ve met many new royals (such as Draga) that I wouldn’t have known otherwise. Besides being a book about jewelry, I’d say it’s also about world history. After all, the jewelry traveled through the centuries and witnessed plenty of upheaval and revolution.

Have you read Christie’s: The Jewellery Archives Revealed?

Happy Reading!

Tiaras: A History of Splendour by Geoffrey C. Munn

While I borrow most of my books from the library (they can be pricey), I have splurged on a number of jewelry tomes over the years. This week, I’ll share some of my favorite royal jewelry books from my personal library.

One of the books I enjoy for enjoyment and research is Tiaras: A History of Splendour by Geoffrey C. Munn.

What can I say about this book except that I love it so very much! It has given me countless hours of entertainment. The book covers more than just tiaras; there is historical context behind the jewelry. There are plenty of royal biographies and the glossy photographs and countless illustrations will keep you happy for hours.

Geoffrey C. Munn, a leading expert in this topic, was granted access to important jewelry archives not usually available to the public, such as Cartier and Boucheron. And the chapters focus on a myriad of tiara topics such as Art Deco, Russian tiaras, European crown jewels and tiaras made as art. Plus so much more.

If you love royal jewelry, then this is a good book to get your hands on. However, it appears that this book is no longer in print. Sadly, sellers on Amazon are pricing it far too exorbitantly. I don’t believe in overpaying for anything. If you’re interested in this book, I suggest you check with your local bookshop or perhaps the local library.

Thank you for stopping by today. Stop by tomorrow for another book recommendation!

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

Sweden’s Queen’s Crown

Alexis Daflos, The Royal Palaces.

Today’s crown is more unique than the other crowns we’ve looked at thus far. It has the usual orb and cross. But unlike the other crowns, Sweden’s Queen’s Crown is studded with 44 incredibly large diamonds. On November 26, 1751, King Adolf Fredrik and Queen Lovisa Ulrika were crowned at Stockholm Cathedral and this crown was made especially for Lovisa Ulrika’s crowning.

However, there is some drama involved with this crown. At one point, someone close to the queen replaced the diamonds with crystals and smuggled the diamonds out of Sweden and into the hands of an antiques dealer in Hamburg. Luckily (and to make a very long story short) the antiques dealer returned the diamonds to Sweden and they’ve been set in the crown ever since.

Queen Lovisa Ulrika portrayed by Swedish artist Lorens Pasch the Younger (1733–1805). © Nationalmuseum.

Let’s learn a little about Lovisa Ulrika. She was born in Berlin on July 24, 1720 to Frederick William I of Prussia and Sophia Dorothea of Hanover. She was also the sister of Frederick the Great. In 1744 she married Adolf Fredrik and they had five children together. Only four reached adulthood, of which two became kings: Gustav III and Karl XIII.

Lovisa Ulrika was an enlightened person. She established the Royal Swedish Academy of Letters, which to this day promotes the arts and sciences. She built theaters, patronized the arts and cultivated acquaintances with intellectuals. But she was also politically ambitious and attempted to influence politics through her husband. For example, she led an unsuccessful coup d’état to reduce parliament’s power and strengthen her husband’s position. After the king’s death she was sidelined by her son, Gustav III. She died in 1782.

Sources

The Royal Palaces