Today marks the centenary of the death of Empress Eugénie of France, who died on this day in 1920, and to mark the anniversary, we are taking a look at one of her jewels, the French Crown Pearl Brooch.
In 1853, Emperor Napoleon III of France ordered four similar Pearl and Diamond Brooches by Francois Kramer using jewels from the Diamants de la Couronne de France, to celebrate his marriage to Eugénie de Montijo, the Countess of Teba and Marchioness of Ardales. The new Empress probably wore the Brooches with her magnificent Pearl Tiara, though sadly she was not depicted wearing them. The Brooches remained in France after the Imperial Family was exiled in 1871, being sold in the famous auction of the French Crown Jewels in 1887, when the four Brooches were acquired by Sir Ogden Goelet, P. Babst & Fils, and M. Louis Grub respectively.
One of the French Crown Pearl Brooches were eventually bought by Tsar Ferdinand of Bulgaria (along with the earrings from the French Crown Sapphire Parure), and was given to his daughter, Princess Nadezhda, when she married Duke Albrecht Eugen of Württemberg in 1924, and was worn at her Wedding. The Brooch was worn by their youngest daughter, Duchess Sophie of Württemberg, for her Wedding Ball in 1969, and for the Wedding of Wedding of Duke Carl of Württemberg and Princess Diane of Orleans in 1960.
In 2015, the Louvre acquired one of the Pearl Brooches, possibly the one worn by Duchess Sophie, which is now on display alongside Empress Eugénie’s Pearl Tiara, and where I saw it a few months ago. It may not be worn but at least it can be admired for years to come.