In March 1791, Marie Antoinette — then France’s capricious and controversial monarch — spent a night packing up her jewels together with her lady-in-waiting. With the French Revolution underway, the queen despatched a variety of valuable gems off to Brussels, the place she and the king deliberate to flee.
“The jewels made it, however sadly, she didn’t,” Daniela Mascetti, chairman of knickknack at Sotheby’s Europe tells The Submit. Three months later, the royal household was captured on their approach out of France and imprisoned. Solely one among them — the teenage princess, Marie-Thérèse — would ever depart the nation once more.
But astonishingly, most of the glittering gems that Marie Antoinette despatched away have survived to this present day intact. Now, 9 items from the ill-fated queen’s private assortment are a part of a huge historic auction with Sotheby’s, referred to as “Royal Jewels from the Bourbon Parma Household.” Bidding will happen in Geneva, on Nov. 14. Earlier than that, the assortment of greater than 100 baubles is touring the globe for public viewing, together with a stint this week at Sotheby’s New York.
The exhibit will run by way of Tuesday, Oct. 16: an auspicious day that marks the 225th anniversary of Marie Antoinette’s beheading in 1793. Her son died in jail two years later, however her daughter was ultimately launched. A somber, 17-year-old Marie-Thérèse left Paris for Vienna, the place she met together with her cousin, Emperor Francis II.
He gave her a reward to have a good time her arrival: a chest filled with her dearly departed mom’s pristine diamonds and pearls.
It’s “extraordinary” that these gems survived the following centuries, Mascetti says. They did as a result of Marie Antoinette’s sister, an archduchess in Brussels, had them despatched to Vienna in anticipation of Marie-Thérèse’s arrival. Extra, the dutiful daughter didn’t dare have them reset.
“Diamonds have been a lot rarer than they are now, and solely ruling households may afford them,” Mascetti says. “And even then, they may not have new jewels until they dismantled the outdated ones.”
Regardless of the percentages, the queen’s prizes stayed within the household after Marie-Thérèse died and willed them to her niece, Louise de Bourbon. (Though Marie-Thérèse married, she had no youngsters.) Right now, an merchandise akin to a pure teardrop pearl pendant suspended from a delicate diamond-studded bow seems to be precisely the identical because it did when Marie Antoinette wore it.
“It truly is a once-in-a-lifetime event” to admire these jewels, Mascetti says.
“Royal Jewels from the Bourbon Parma Household” is on view till Tuesday, Oct. 16. Admission is free. Sotheby’s, 1334 York Ave.; Sothebys.com