Above, a painting attributed to Hersent from the late 30s of the 19th century, shows Queen Marie-Amélie with the original parure before reworking.
Sewn onto her dress, you can see the nine detachable diadem elements and the 'Peigne-Couronne' in their original condition. The smaller brooch by Hortense de Beuharnais, which is stuck on a silk bow, as well as a necklace and earrings by Queen Hortense.
The "Peigne-Couronne" is attached to her headdress together with a beautiful Sévigné-style brooch.
Maria Amalia Theresa of Bourbon, Princess of Naples-Sicily, was born on 26 April 1787 in Caserta near Naples, Italy, as the daughter of Maria Karolina of Austria and Ferdinand I. Antonio, King of both Sicily, who was also King of Naples.
She grew up at the court of Naples and received a comprehensive education. Later she lived with her mother at the Austrian court for two years.
In 1806 she met Louis-Philippe, the then Duke of Orléans, who she met at the Duke.
She was married on 25 November 1809 in Palermo at the age of 22 and, as she herself described it, wore a diamond tiara and two large white ostrich feathers in her hair on the occasion of her wedding.
The tiara was most probably the same as the one that appears in an inventory from 1839 of the court jeweller Constant Bapst, in which the value at that time was also recorded.
This list resulted in seven personal parures, the diamond parure of which consisted of 28 parts. Probably, however, it was not a uniformly newly created ensemble, as was usual for the Empire style, but also contained pieces of jewellery from earlier epochs.
It is likely that it was given to Marie-Amélie by her parents on the occasion of her wedding.
The assortment included the following parts:
- A detachable tiara that makes 15 individual pieces.
Its decor contains a tendril leaf work with palmette motifs (57,600 francs).
- Two Rivièren necklaces with diamonds in open settings. One is set with 36 diamonds (21,000 francs), the other with 43 diamonds (18,300 francs).
- A 'Devant de Corsage' decorated with a leafwork set with diamonds and to which seven 'Pendeloques' were attached - the middle one of 'stately size' (23,000 francs).
- A square brooch with a cross motif in the centre, set with 13 large and several small diamonds (13,300 francs). This piece of jewellery was preserved and worn by the Countess of Paris (photo).
- A pair of earrings 'en Girandole', each with five pendants (8.950 Francs).
- One belt buckle, with 80 regularly arranged diamonds (8,950).
- A pair of portrait bracelets with medallions surrounded by diamonds and connected with several 'diamond strings' (5,200).
A remarkable series of 19 exceptionally precious ears of corn ornaments, eleven smaller ones with one ear (8,800 francs each) and eight large ones with three ears (10,100 francs each). These pieces of jewellery could be worn in the hair or put on a robe. Unfortunately, nothing is known about the whereabouts of the entire diamond jewellery, except for the smaller brooch mentioned above.
After the July Revolution of 1830, Louis-Philippe was proclaimed king and Marie-Amélie the last queen of France to belong to the House of Orléans.
As regent of France she had the crown jewels at her disposal, but the royal family did not claim them.
Throughout the reign of Louis-Philippe, the jewels remained untouched in a large, locked cassette that could only be opened with five different keys. Evrard Bapst, the jeweller of the Crown, and Mrs. Kessner, who held a leading position in the Ministry of Finance, were among those who had access.
Marie-Amélie wore only her personal jewellery during her time as Queen, and her collection was constantly expanded with generous gifts from her husband.
One of these gifts was a sapphire parure that might have come from the possession of Empress Josephine.
In 1821 Hortense de Beauharnais offered this jewellery for sale. After the final fall of Napoleon, she too had to leave the country. In order to be able to continue her Swiss exile lifestyle, she separated from some of her pieces. Louis-Philippe supported Hortense de Beauharnais, Queen of Holland until 1810, by unconditionally accepting, without negotiating, the price of 160,000 francs demanded at that time.
The jewellery offered was of very high quality. The sapphires are of a uniform, beautiful colour (Ceylon) and the diamonds are of a very high quality.
The offered jewellery was of very high quality. The sapphires are of uniform, beautiful color (Ceylon) and the diamonds are described as very white. The kit is in gold and silver. An exact temporal allocation cannot be made from today's view unfortunately any more. On the one hand, the work signs cannot be assigned to any of the leading jewellers of the time, on the other hand, the 'traces' are blurred by reworkings, which are described further below in the text. However, the pieces are of first-class workmanship.
The sapphire set consisted of a large diadem divided by nine main elements.
It was in this condition until 1863. Each element is marked by a large sapphire surrounded by diamonds. The sapphire is mounted between two motifs reminiscent of the wings of a Phoenix, which rise from the strikingly ornamented base. The eight connecting pieces each carry a smaller sapphire in their tip.
A total of 26 sapphires were processed. There is an assumption that the diadem still had a base of circumferential diamonds of the same size, which had already been removed earlier.
Furthermore there was a necklace and a pair of earrings, which have kept their original condition until today.
The necklace has eight large sapphires set with diamonds, interrupted by 30 elongated links set with diamonds. The matching earrings have a round sapphire in the upper part and two beautiful, free-swinging, large sapphire briolettes in the drop-shaped lower part.
The last part of the set had a brooch, which can be seen in Louis Hersent's painting, above. It was decorated with one large and two small sapphires. After about 1850 this brooch could have been given away - or broken open in connection with the reworking of the diadem, that is not clear.
Until 1839 the parure was supplemented by further sapphire jewellery. The already mentioned inventory list of Bapst from the same year still contains two bracelets. One with a large sapphire surrounded by diamonds, connected by six strings of pearls (198 pearls), the other, more important, a strikingly beautiful, large sapphire as a middle part, on a diamond-studded band decorated with leaf tendrils.
The last piece in the collection is the so-called 'Peigne-Couronne', a large comb known as a crown or jewellery border, which is a versatile piece of jewellery.
Marie-Amélie wears it on the painting as a sewn-on hat decoration.
This comb, more like a diadem, has always been attributed to Marie-Antoinette (probably a mistake that has crept in over the centuries). When the inventory list was drawn up, the 'Peigne-Couronne' had eight large and seven small sapphires and 66 pearls. The outfit is completely set with diamonds. It looks rather small next to the sapphire tiara, but this is deceptive, as it is of stately size. The delicate impression is created by the flattering pearl trimming, which soothes the impression.
In 1863 the 1st parure was reworked and completed by Bapst, whereby the 'Peigne-Couronne' with its processed pearls served as a model for the design of the 2nd parure.
The date is controversial, but can be narrowed down in so far as there is a painting by Louis Hersent dated 1863 which shows Queen Marie-Amelie with the parure in its original state and a second inventory list of the jeweller Hancock in London from the same year already lists two sapphire parures. This suggests that the reworking took place this year.
The exact reason for the reworking is also not entirely certain, but it is assumed that it was intended as a wedding gift in 1864 for her grandson Louis Philippe Albert with Maria Isabella of Spain. In his family the jewellery was in any case passed on and was sold there until 1985.
In order to avoid larger purchases of stones for the design of the 2nd parure, the existing large diadem was dismantled.
The middle five, the nine elements could still be worn as a diadem and from the removed four large side parts a brooch was created - three with movable sapphire pendants and one 'Devant de Corsage', which was worn with the pure sapphire parure.
It was a relatively simple but effective reworking. For the three brooches, Bapst simply "turned upside down" the removed main motifs and attached the sapphire tips of the connecting pieces of the diadem, which were decorated with pearls, to two of them.
The larger of the three new brooches has the 8th stone of the 'Peigne-Couronne' as pendant. (The comb was only slightly altered in this respect - only the eight large sapphires contained were reduced to seven. Due to the odd number of
The bigger of the three new brooches got the 8th stone of the 'Peigne-Couronne' as pendant. (The comb was only slightly changed - only the eight large sapphires were reduced to seven. The uneven number gave the diadem its centre of gravity in the middle, giving it a balanced look).
The new jewellery was decorated with small beads (partly to simply cover the open joints of the diadem).
For the big 'Devant de Corsage' the fourth element of the diadem was used almost unchanged. The large octagonal sapphire is clearly visible. In order to make the brooch appear harmonious, the outer rim was reworked and a drop-shaped sapphire was attached for the lower end.
The remaining three large sapphires surrounded by diamonds could now be attached as 'Boutons de Robe'. One of the sapphires also remained in its original version, as taken from the diadem, the other two were carmolized from smaller diamonds. The brooches now look more elegant and were worn with the original necklace and earrings.
All remaining parts of the diadem were broken open and the stones flowed into the design for a pair of earrings that matched the 2nd parure.
In a very simple but effective way a second set was created, which can be distinguished from the original parure, which was only set with diamonds and sapphires, by the small bead set.
From Bapst only the pearls and a few additional, smaller sapphires and diamonds had to be supplied.
Here one notices the skill and above all the feeling for the handling with style elements of a piece of jewellery, which a traditional house like Bapst developed in the course of a century.
One of the reasons for this was that at that time it was not only the job of a goldsmith and draughtsman to design and produce new jewellery, but also to adapt existing, outdated or inherited pieces to the respective fashion by transforming them.
Over the years, both sets found their way back to Orléans and were passed on until the jewels were sold.
Queen Hortense's parure was purchased by the Louvre in 1985 for $800,000.00 and is on display at the Galerie d'Apollon.
The second parure, decorated with pearls and sapphires, worne in public by the Countess of Paris, was sold in 1993 and fetched the same price. It went into private hands.
Oben, ein Gemälde das Hersent zugeschrieben wird und aus den späten 30er Jahren des 19. Jahrhunderts stammt, zeigt Königin Marie-Amélie mit der Original-Parure vor der Umarbeitung.
Auf ihr Kleid aufgenäht, erkennt man die neun zerlegbaren Diadem-Elemente und den ’Peigne-Couronne’ im Original-Zustand. Die kleinere von Hortense de Beuharnais stammende Brosche die auf eine Seidenschleife gesteckt ist, sowie Collier und Ohrringe von Königin Hortense. Der “Peigne-Couronne“ ist zusammen mit einer schönen Brosche im Sévigné-Stil an ihrem Kopfputz angebracht.
Maria Amalia Theresa von Bourbon, Prinzessin von Neapel-Sizilien wurde am 26. April 1787 als Tochter von Maria Karolina von Österreich und Ferdinand I. Antonio, König beider Sizilien, der zugleich auch König von Neapel war, in Caserta bei Neapel, Italien geboren. Mehr von der Geschichte der Französischen Orleans Saphire>>
Quelle: Bernard Morel/Vincent Meylan
Herzlichen Dank an Uwe Ripka für den Text und Recherche aus dem Jahr 2006!