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Work Crown of Louis XV

Department of Decorative Arts: 18th century: rococo

Couronne de Louis XV

© 2010 Musée du Louvre / Martine Beck-Coppola

Decorative Arts
18th century: rococo

Author(s):
Barbier Muriel

It was the custom of the kings of France to have their own personal crown made for their coronation. Louis XV commissioned two crowns: one in enameled gold and the other, now in the Louvre, in silver-gilt embellished with precious stones. In 1729, however, this crown was dismantled and the original jewels replaced with paste imitations. The crown was worn only at the coronation, after which it was placed in the abbey of Saint-Denis with the rest of the royal regalia.

A work composed of pearls and precious stones

The crown of Louis XV consists of an embroidered satin cap encircled by a metal band; springing from this are openwork arches surmounted by a fleur-de-lis. The band was originally bordered with two rows of pearls and set with eight colored stones (sapphires, rubies, topazes and emeralds) alternating with diamonds. At the base of the arches were five-diamond clusters forming fleurs-de-lis. The famous Regent diamond, purchased a few years before the coronation, adorned the flower at the front. The eight quadrangular diamonds that surmounted the flowers were from the set of eighteen Mazarin diamonds. The crown is topped by a fleur-de-lis formed from silver acanthus leaves, set originally with the Sancy diamond and seventeen others. A further twenty-four diamonds were sewn onto the cap. In 1729, the pearls and precious stones were replaced by paste imitations at the command of Louis XV. In all, the crown contained 282 diamonds (161 large and 121 small), 64 colored stones (including 16 rubies, 16 sapphires and 16 emeralds) and 237 pearls.

The craftsmanship of Parisian jewelers

Louis XV's personal crown was designed by the jeweler Claude Rondé and executed under the supervision of the young Augustin Duflos, jeweler to the king at the Galeries du Louvre. Shortly afterwards, in 1723, again working for Rondé, Duflos made a crown almost identical in design and size for King Joseph V of Portugal. In 1725, Rondé delivered another crown to the queen, similar in composition but smaller in size.

Descriptions of the crown of Louis XV

Two contemporary descriptions of this work have survived: the first was published in "Le Mercure" a month after the coronation, in November 1722, and the second appeared as a caption to an engraving by Sébastien Antoine. The latter specified that the crown was adorned with sixty-four colored stones, but mentioned only 273 diamonds and diverged in several other respects from its present appearance. It is therefore possible that its current form is not entirely faithful to the original composition, and that any differences may be the result of the restoration undertaken by the jeweler Maillard in 1780. Despite these slight modifications and being set with imitation stones, Louis XV's personal crown indicates both the sumptuous nature of royal ceremonial and the virtuoso skills of eighteenth-century jewelers.

Bibliography

Regalia: les instruments du sacre des rois de France, les honneurs de Charlemagne, Paris, Éditions de la Réunion des musées nationaux, 1987, pp. 91-2

Technical description

  • Augustin DUFLOS, joaillier

    Couronne de Louis XV

    1722

    Paris

  • Argent doré, pierres et perles d'imitation

    H. : 24 cm. ; D. : 22 cm.

  • Offerte au trésor de l'abbaye de Saint-Denis en 1729Attribuée au musée du Louvre en 1852

    MS 61

  • Decorative Arts

    Denon wing
    1st floor
    Galerie d'Apollon
    Room 66
    Vitrine des diamants

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