MENIERE EARLY 19TH CENTURY RUBY AND DIAMOND BROOCH
MENIERE EARLY 19TH CENTURY RUBY AND DIAMOND BROOCH
MENIERE EARLY 19TH CENTURY RUBY AND DIAMOND BROOCH
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MENIERE EARLY 19TH CENTURY RUBY AND DIAMOND BROOCH
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This lot is subject to standard Swiss VAT rules an… Read more Property of a Noble Family
MENIERE EARLY 19TH CENTURY RUBY AND DIAMOND BROOCH

Details
MENIERE EARLY 19TH CENTURY RUBY AND DIAMOND BROOCH
Oval and pear-shaped rubies, old-cut diamonds, silver and gold, circa 1816

Size/Dimensions: 4.5 cm
Gross weight: 9 grams

Please refer to the department for gemmological report.
Provenance
Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821)
Empress Marie-Louise (1791-1847)
Madame Royale Duchesse of Angoulême (1778-1851)
French Crown Jewels auction 1887
Special notice

This lot is subject to standard Swiss VAT rules and 7.7% VAT will be charged on the ‘hammer’ and the ‘buyer’s premium’

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Lot Essay

The French Crown Jewels were a fiduciary structure established in 1530 by François I aimed at keeping the royal jewel collection unalienable. The jewels were owned by the French state and placed at the disposal of the monarch. It was fully separate from the private jewels of the royal family which could get divided through inheritance. Generations of French kings added to the collection. In 1792, robbers stole the crown jewels from the Hotel de la Marine. Only a few pieces were eventually recovered. Napoleon Bonaparte rebuilt the collection by establishing extensive garnitures which were reworked under subsequent reigns. France knew many regimes during the 19th century: the First Empire (1804-1814), Bourbon Restauration (1815-1830), July Monarchy (1830-1848), Second Republic (1848-1852), Second Empire of Napoleon III (1952-1870) and finally the Third Republic. Each time a monarchy was abolished, the user of the crown jewels graciously returned them to France.
In 1810 Napoleon commissioned the jeweller François-Régnault Nitot, precursor of Chaumet, to create a ruby and diamond parure for the French Crown Jewels. It was intended to be worn by his second wife Marie-Louise of Austria. The parure contained 404 rubies and 9,430 small diamonds. It was delivered in January 1811. Chaumet’s archives contain a gouache rendering of the first version of the parure.

Under the Bourbon Restauration, one of the first decision was to reset all Napoleon’s jewels starting with the ruby suite, even though it was only five years old. Both Louis XVIII and Charles X had already lost their spouses before the Restauration so the Duchess of Angoulême became first lady of France and as such had the crown jewels at her disposal.
In 1816, court-jeweler Paul-Nicolas Ménière remounted the ruby and diamond parure after drawings by his son-in-law Jacques-Evrard Bapst. The extensive suite consisted of a tiara, acoronet, a pair of bracelets, a belt, one large and one small necklace, a pendant, a clasp, a set of buttons, two brooches and of course this pair of earrings. Nitot’s first version of the earrings was a classic girandole using five rubies. The same five rubies were used in the second version which took on a modified girandole shape. Two ruby pendants flank a larger ruby and diamond pendant suspended from a butterfly wing-shaped central element. This shape also features in the emerald and diamond tiara (c. 1820) which Bapst designed for the Duchess of Angoulême, now at the Louvre.
Queen Marie-Amélie did not wear the crown jewels under the July Monarchy. Eugénie de Montijo wife of Napoleon III passionately wore them adding and adapting many pieces according to the latest fashions. However, she did not touch the ruby parure which remained unaltered as it had been made for the Duchess of Angoulême.

The Third Republic did not know what to do with the crown jewels, such a highly prestigious symbol of royalty. The complete collection was photographed in 1884 on the occasion of an exhibition that drew enthusiastic crowds. In 1887, the crown jewels were infamously sold at an auction held in the Louvre.
At the 1887 auction, Boin-Taburet acquired the ruby and diamond earrings together with their matching pendant. Boin-Taburet was a Parisian gold and silver smithing company founded by George Boin and Emile Taburet. They likely bid on behalf of a client. At some later date one of the earrings must have been converted into the brooch we see today. It is accompanied by a red leather fitted case stamped with a gilded crown consisting out of eagle-shaped arches. Such a crown usually refers to Napoleon III. Whoever provided this box, must have been aware of the converted earring’s illustrious provenance.
In 1973, the bracelets from the ruby and diamond parure were acquired by the Louvre. They reside in the Galerie d’Apollon. One plaque of the belt joined them there in 2019. Christie’s Geneva has had the pleasure of offering the large necklace twice in the past, once in December 1982 and again in May 1993.

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