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EMPEROR NICHOLAS I

Emperor Nicholas I: An Imperial portrait diamond pendant, possibly Duval, St Petersburg, the portrait circa 1815, the jewel late 18th century
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75

EMPEROR NICHOLAS I

Emperor Nicholas I: An Imperial portrait diamond pendant, possibly Duval, St Petersburg, the portrait circa 1815, the jewel late 18th century
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

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Emperor Nicholas I: An Imperial portrait diamond pendant, possibly Duval, St Petersburg, the portrait circa 1815, the jewel late 18th century
centred with a miniature portrait painted on ivory of Grand Duke Nicholas Pavlovich, later Emperor Nicholas I, wearing the uniform of the Life Guards Regiment and the breast star and sash of the Order of St Andrew, below a table diamond, the border of graduated circular-cut diamonds in a silver mount, pendant loop, hinged gold back, apparently unmarked
23 x 17 mm
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Provenance

Emperor Nicholas I (1796-1855), by whom probably given to his future wife, Princess Charlotte of Prussia (1798-1860), later Empress Alexandra Feodorovna

Grand Duchess Maria Nikolaevna (1819-1876)

Thence by descent

Property of a European Royal Family

Catalogue Note

The original recipient of this jewel is unknown but, in keeping with tradition, it would have been given by the future Emperor to someone very close to him.  It may have been a gift to his mother, Empress Maria Feodorovna.  The Grand Duke appears to be about eighteen years old, which would date the miniature to 1814, although the jewel itself is evidently earlier.  As we know Alexander I gave portrait diamonds to his sisters at the time of their marriages, and it is possible that Nicholas followed the same custom and gave it to his sister, Grand Duchess Anna Pavlovna, when she married the future King of the Netherlands in 1816.  However, the piece does not appear to be mentioned in the list of jewels in her dowry, which remains in the archives of the Dutch Royal Household (see U. Tillander-Godenhielm, Jewels from Imperial St Petersburg, London, 2012, p. 49). 

Much more likely is that the Grand Duke gave it to his future wife, Princess Charlotte of Prussia.  Although they were not married until 1 July 1817, when he was 21 years old and she nearly 19, arrangements for the marriage commenced in 1814, the intention being to fortify the alliance between Russia and Prussia.  The couple first met when Nicholas and his brother Michael visited Berlin in February 1814.  The following year he visited again, and by then the young couple were in love, with the Princess writing that ‘in our hearts we have a world of our own’.  The engagement was made official in October 1816.  The jewel may have been given by him personally or sent to Berlin during these years.  Much later, Emperor Nicholas I maintained a great affection for both his wife Empress Alexandra Feodorovna and their earliest years as a couple.  When much of the Winter Palace was destroyed by fire in 1837, he told an aide ‘Let everything else burn up, only just save for me the small case of letters in my study which my wife wrote to me when she was my betrothed’ (B. Lincoln, The Romanovs: Autocrats of All the Russias, New York, 1981, p. 417).

Treasures

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