A HISTORICALLY IMPORTANT ROYAL ENAMEL AND GEM-SET PORTRAIT BANGLE, PROBABLY BY JEAN-FRANCOIS BAUTTE
The heart-shaped frosted gold front, enamelled in relief with polychrome flowers finely painted in opaque enamel and translucent green enamel leaves centring two enamel portraits depicting Vittorio Emanuele, duca d'Aosta and his younger brother Ferdinando, duca di Genova. The swivelling portraits reveal two covers with similar enamel flower decoration, cushion-cut rubies at the cardinal points centring two heart-shaped compartments with flat diamond covers within diamond surround. Under the portraits old-cut diamond-set V and F initials centring an octagonal-cut sapphire surmounted by a cushion-shaped ruby. The heart surmounted by a pearl and ruby-set crown and translucent green enamel leaves, the detachable bracelet with similar enamel and graduated rectangular-cut amethysts and rubies, Probably Swiss, circa 1830
The portraits are signed D'apres Vacca par Dupont
The children depicted are Vittorio Emanuele, duca d'Aosta (1820-1878) and his younger brother Ferdinando, duca di Genova (1822-1855). They were the only sons of Carlo Alberto, 7th Prince of Carignano and King of Sardinia (first Sardinian King from the Savoia-Carignano line) Vittorio Emmanuele was King of Sardiana (1849-1861) as Vittorio Emanuele II and became the first King of Italy in 1861. He married firstly his cousin Marie Adelaine of Habsburg-Lorraine in 1842. Among his children were Umberto I, King of Italy. Vittorio Emanuele married morganatically, in 1869, his principal mistress Rosa Vercellana Guerrieri, who had been created Contessa di Mirafiori e Fontanafredda in 1858. Ferdinando Maria Alberto, duca di Genova, married Elisabeth, daughter of King Johann I of Saxony, in 1850. Their daughter Margherita Maria married her cousin King Umberto I of Italy, and their son Tommaso Alberto married Princess Isabella of Bavaria. A similar pair of miniatures showing the two princes slightly older is illustrated in the exhibition catalogue Miniature Sabaude, Turin, Unione Industriale di Torino, 1996, p. 35, no. 5. A rather similar miniature depicting Vittorio Emanuele II as a child was in the collection of King Umberto II of Italy, sold at Sotheby's, Geneva, 12 November 1984, lot 55 (mis-identified as Carlo Alberto).
Vacca refers to Carlo Vincenzo Vacca (Turin 1789-1848) who was Court miniaturist to King Carlo Felice of Sardinia and to the follower of the latter, King Carlo Alberto of Sardinia (father of the two young depicted boys). Dupont refers to Jean-Francois Victor Dupont (Geneva 1785-1863), a famous and prolific Geneva enamel painter and miniaturist. Works by him are in the Musee de l'Horlogerie et de l'Emaillerie, Geneva, and in the Societe des Arts, Geneva. Dupont was obviously given two miniatures by Vacca to be copied for the client, probably the Royal household of Turin.
The enamel painter being from Geneva, there is a good possibility that the bracelet as such was also made by a Swiss goldsmith. The exquisite enamel decoration on this bangle is reminiscent of a box sold at Christie's London on 28 November 2006, lot 90 (see illustration). This box was by Jean-Francois Bautte (1772-1837) & Co., signed and marked, done circa 1830. (2)