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Work Bracelets of the Duchess of Angoulême

Department of Decorative Arts: 19th century

Pair of bracelets belonging to the duchesse d'Angoulême

© 1988 RMN / Daniel Arnaudet

Decorative Arts
19th century

Author(s):
Barbier Muriel

This pair of bracelets was originally part of a parure, a matched set of jewelry, which was crafted from a parure executed in 1811 by the Maison Nitot for the Empress Marie-Louise (1791-1847). When he took the throne, Louis XVIII (1755-1824) had the imperial jewels unmounted to adapt them to current fashion. In 1816 Pierre-Nicolas Menière reset the rubies and diamonds of Marie-Louise for the Duchess of Angoulême (1775-1851).

The parure of Marie-Louise

Etienne Nitot (1750-1809) and his son François-Regnault Nitot (1779-1853), jewelers to Emperor Napoleon I, supplied Empress Marie-Louise, Napoleon's second wife, with a parure of rubies and diamonds comprising a diadem, a crown, a necklace, a comb, a pair of earrings, a pair of bracelets, and a girdle. The bracelets were set with 24 rubies, 451 "brilliants" (diamonds), and 60 Dutch rose-cut diamonds. Placed at the Empress's disposal, this parure was immediately recorded in the inventory of Crown diamonds. Marie-Louise had little time to enjoy this sumptuous parure, as the Empire fell in 1814.

The intervention of Louis XVIII

Upon acceding to the throne in 1814, Louis XVIII had at his disposal the Crown jewels, an essential symbol of the monarchy. During the Hundred Days, when he went into exile, he took the jewels with him, and upon his return to power in 1815, he ordered the former empress's parure to be demounted so as to adapt the pieces to current fashion. Thus the rubies and diamonds of Marie-Louise were reset by Paul-Nicolas Menière following the designs of his son-in-law, Evrard Bapst, in memory of Marie-Antoinette, for Marie-Thérèse-Charlotte de France, previously called Madame Royale, who became Duchess of Angoulême by her marriage in 1799 to her first cousin, Louis-Antoine d'Artois, the eldest son of the Count of Artois (the future Charles X).

The parure of the Duchess of Angoulême

The new parure comprised a diadem, a necklace, a comb, a pair of earrings, a girdle, three clasps, and the pair of bracelets now in the Louvre. This parure was quite similar to that of Marie-Louise. Menière and Bapst kept Nitot's essential elements, but arranged them more soberly, in the characteristic style of the Restoration. The two bracelets were made of twenty-four oval rubies, surrounded by 356 round brilliants. The scarlet color of the rubies is set off by the sparkling whiteness of the diamonds. A regular frieze alternating ovolos and fleurons is interrupted in the center by an oblong oval adorned with three rubies. These bracelets, like the rest of the parure, traversed the different regimes of the nineteenth century without mishap, being worn by Queen Marie-Amélie, and later by Empress Eugénie. Under the Third Republic, the set was sold at auction in 1887, with other parures.

Bibliography

Granjean S., "Chronique des musées. Nouvelles acquisitions du musée du Louvre. Département des Objets d'art. Deux joyaux de l'impératrice et de la duchesse d'Angoulême", La Revue du Louvre, 1975, n 1, pp. 51-54.

Mabille G., Les Diamants de la Couronne, Paris, 2001
 

Technical description

  • Pair of bracelets belonging to the duchesse d'Angoulême

    1816 and 1825

    Paris

  • 72 rubies; 420 diamonds; gold

  • Former Crown Diamonds collection
    Auctioned in 1887
    Claude Menier bequest, 1973

    OA 10576

  • Decorative Arts

    Richelieu wing
    1st floor
    Elise Dosne-Thiers
    Room 74

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