Tuesday’s Royal Trinket: Hillwood Mansion and Museum

© The Royal Archivist

It’s not one trinket today. It’s many, so grab a cup of tea and settle in for a few minutes of enjoyment. If you love decorative arts, then you will love Hillwood Mansion and Museum in Washington, D.C. It’s filled to the brim with items of royal connection.

Long before Hillwood was a museum, it was the home of Marjorie Merriweather Post (1887-1973), the heiress to the Postum Cereal Company. Post had a fascination with royalty and a life-long interest in decorative arts. As you can image, I completely appreciate that about her.

During her time in the Soviet Union (she was married to the US ambassador to the Soviet Union), she picked up many interesting pieces at auction. In the image above, you can see that Post purchased watches, cigarette cases, decorative boxes and other trinkets of Romanov provenance. Post acquired items that belonged to the Romanovs, the Orthodox churches and numerous aristocrats. These items are now housed at her home, Hillwood.

We’ve already discussed the eggs and the nuptial crown. Let’s take a peek at a few other items in her house.

© The Royal Archivist

The dining room was designed to house Dutch paintings of hunting scenes. You can spot them on the wall in the photograph above. But what’s most fascinating to me is the nineteenth-century carpet. It was a gift from Napoleon III to the ill-fated Emperor Maximillian of Mexico. It’s ironic because Maximillian would not have been executed if not for Napoleon III.

© The Royal Archivist

The grand staircase in the entry hall is laden with paintings of Russian royals. You can spot Catherine the Great. Alexandra Feodorovna, the last tsarina, hangs right underneath Catherine. Also, you can barely see him, but Alexander III hangs on the right side of the wall. Who else do you recognize?

© The Royal Archivist

And here is a close-up view of the staircase, with a view of the chandelier. The chandelier probably came from Russia’s Gatchina Palace.

I hope you enjoyed today’s peek into a few items at Hillwood Mansion and Museum. If you can’t visit in person, you can always visit virtually.

Thank you for stopping by and have a great new week!

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!

Royal Links of Note

Photo by Julia Volk.

Happy Monday! I hope you had a wonderful weekend.

For today, I thought I’d share a few royalty-related articles. For me, it’s always fun to talk about royal history. If you feel the same, leave a comment and let me know your thoughts.

What remains of France’s aristocracy? – This short video by France 24 is super interesting and fun. It’s about France’s former aristocracy and their grand homes. There is also a tour of an aristocratic chateau and the France 24 journalist meets with an aristocratic family to talk about what it’s like to maintain a chateau.

Ten questions to ask about tiaras. – If you are ever in need of purchasing a tiara (how I wish this was a real problem for me), then read this insightful article by Christie’s.

Photo by Maria Orlova.

Germany’s ex-royal family win legal case against historian. – Truly, I’m not sure how I feel about this case. The courts have sided with the Hohenzollern Family in their lawsuit against a historian. Perhaps I do not fully grasp the legal issue at play, but I’m worried that this ruling may lead to future historians and journalists being censored. What do you think?

Photo by Julia Volk.

A royal engagement. – Grand Duke George of Russia is engaged to be married. If you are interested to learn about his imperial Romanov lineage, read my post about it here.

Current royal read. – I’m currently reading Chère Annette: Letters from Russia 1820-1828. It’s a compilation of letters written by Empress Maria Feodorovna of Russia to her daughter, Grand Duchess Anna Pavlovna. She married the Prince of Orange and moved to the Netherlands. It’s a charming compilation of letters because it’s evident how much the Empress loved her daughter. Are you reading a royal history book?

Thank you for stopping by.

See you tomorrow!

Podcasts for Royal History Lovers

Via Wikimedia Commons. Empress Joséphine in her coronation regalia painted by François Gérard, 1807-1808.

If you like reading about royal history, then you may enjoy listening to podcasts about royals. There are a number of excellent podcasts I subscribe to that I think you might find of interest.

The Exploress Podcast is incredibly well-researched and a fun way to learn about ancient historical women. The recreations of historical dialogue are entertaining and a must-listen. Though there are many episodes on historic noble women, some of the women featured are commoners. It’s still an entertaining resource and I highly recommend the outstanding four-part series on Cleopatra. Plus, the website has a page devoted to book recommendations. Enjoy!

Noble Blood is a podcast about the footnotes of royal men and women; the stories we don’t learn in school. It’s well-researched and told in a narrative style, as if a good friend is sitting near you and whispering a gossipy tale. The episodes are about tyrannical royals, murdered royals and tragic princesses. Very entertaining. I can’t recommend it enough.

The History Chicks is run by two very good friends who enjoy talking about historical women. They began the podcast ten years ago because they couldn’t find any podcasts devoted entirely to women. Though a good number of royals are featured, they are not the main focus of this podcast. However, it’s worth perusing their catalog since it features many episodes of interest to royal history fans. I recommend their episodes on Gilded Age Heiresses, Catherine the Great and Empress Sisi of Austria.

The Art of Monarchy is no longer updated, but the past episodes about decorative arts of The Royal Collection are a must-listen for royal history lovers.

Last but not least, if you enjoy royal fashion, then you may enjoy listening to Dressed. The two hosts are experts in fashion and textiles and are a joy to listen to. Their well-researched episodes feature everything from the history of haute couture to Oscars fashion and feature a good amount of interviews with experts.

Russian Nuptial Crown

© The Royal Archivist. Please do not duplicate.

The Russian Nuptial Crown was created in 1840. According to Stefano Papi’s Jewels of the Romanovs, English jeweler Nichols and Plincke used diamonds from the collection of Catherine the Great to create the nuptial crown. There is mention in Geoffrey Munn’s Tiaras: A History of Splendour that Nichols and Plincke maintained the Russian crown jewels. At one point, the nuptial crown was stored in a specially-fitted case with the firm’s name. After the firm shuttered in the 1880s, Fabergé was able to win the Imperial family’s patronage. Through the years, the nuptial crown was worn by numerous Romanov brides, the most recent high-profile being the Tsarina Alexandra in 1894.

To raise funds for their regime, the Bolshevik government sold the Russian Nuptial Crown in 1927. It was auctioned by Christie’s for £6,100 (a very high price at the time) and in 1966 made its way into Mrs. Marjorie Post’s collection.

Today the nuptial crown remains on display at her home, Hillwood, which opened to the public as a museum in 1977. The nuptial crown is probably one of the most significant pieces of the Russian crown jewels outside of Russia today. 

Sources

Permanent Exhibit at Hillwood Museum in Washington, D.C. 

Christie’s The Jewelry Archives Revealed by Vincent Meylan

Jewels of the Romanovs by Stefano Papi

Tiaras: A History of Splendour by Geoffrey C. Munn