Empress Eugenie's Pearl Tiara
Empress Eugenie Pearl Tiara
PORTRAIT OF EMPRESS EUGENIE WEARING THE PEARL TIARA BY FRANZ XAVER WINTERHALTER
GLORIA VON THURN UND TAXIS WEARING THE PEARL TIARA ON HER WEDDING DAY, 1980
In celebration of June’s birthstone, is this monumental pearl diadem by Gabriel Lemonnier, which was commissioned by Napoleon III in 1853 as a wedding gift to his bride, Eugénie de Montigjo. The tiara features 212 pearls and nearly 2000 diamonds set in foliage scrolls with upright pear-shaped pearls, set in silver.
The stones had belonged to the French State Treasury, as was the practice at this time, while France journeyed in and out of monarchical rule. After his defeat by Prussia in 1870, Napoleon and Eugénie took exile in England where they were hosted by Queen Victoria, and the tiara was returned to the French State. In 1887 during the Third Republic of France the tiara was sold, and out of the 69 lots put up for sale, 24 were purchased by Tiffany & Co, the most successful bidder at the auction.
In 1890 the tiara was resold and bought by Albert, 8th Prince von Thurn und Taxis as a wedding gift to his future bride Archduchess Margarethe Klementine of Austria. The House of Thurn und Taxis were German nobility who had amassed a fortune largely due to their early involvement in establishing the European postal service.
The tiara was seen again when the 11th Prince of Thurn and Taxis, Johannes, married German aristocrat Countess Gloria von Schönburg-Glauchau in 1980. Aged just 20, her new husband was 34 years her senior and she soon became known as the 'Punk Princess' for her extravagant appearance and lifestyle. For the Prince’s 60th birthday party she dressed as Marie Antoinette and was lowered down to join the other guests on a golden cloud attached to a zip wire.
It was only when the Prince died in 1992 that Gloria turned herself into a devout Catholic businesswoman to repay the £300 million debt which she had unexpectedly inherited. The precious tiara was therefore put up for auction once more, and this time was purchased by Friends of The Louvre, where it is still on display today - reunited with its homeland.
article source: https://www.tatler.com/article/tiara-of-the-month-empress-eugenie