Magnificent Jewels and Noble Jewels: Part I

Magnificent Jewels and Noble Jewels: Part I

View full screen - View 1 of Lot 278. Impressive sapphire and diamond tiara, mid 19th century | 藍寶石配鑽石頭冠,19世紀中期.

Formerly in the Collection of Johanna Loisinger

Impressive sapphire and diamond tiara, mid 19th century | 藍寶石配鑽石頭冠,19世紀中期

Auction Closed

November 10, 06:05 PM GMT


70,000 - 120,000 CHF

Lot Details


Formerly in the Collection of Johanna Loisinger

Impressive sapphire and diamond tiara

mid 19th century

Designed as five detachable graduated palmettes, each set with a cushion-shaped sapphire enhanced with cushion-, circular- and single-cut diamonds, inner circumference 260mm, case stamped Koch.

Please note that this tiara was formerly in the Collection of Johanna Loisinger.

Prince Alexandre (1823-1895), son of grand-duke Luis II of Hesse-Darmstadt and princess Wilhelmine de Bade, renounced his titles and responsibilities to enter into a morganatic marriage with the Russian empress’ (née Marie de Hesse-Darmstadt) lady in waiting, Julie von Hauke (1825-1895) and it is from this union that the House of Battenberg originated. The couple resided at Heiligenberg castle, north of Lake Constance, and were friends with Queen Victoria. Alexandre and Julie had five children including Louis-Alexandre (1854-1921), grandfather of the recently deceased Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Consort to Queen Elizabeth II, Henri (1858-1896), father of the queen of Spain, Victoria-Eugénie d’Espagne, and Alexandre (1857-1893). The latter was unanimously elected prince of Bulgaria in 1879, a position from which he abdicated seven years later. Embittered by this fall from grace he retired to Graz pursuing a military career in the Austro-Hungarian army.

In love with a sister of the Kaiser, Alexandre was summarily rebuffed and then dismissed for political reasons and he later met Johanna Loisinger (1865-1951), a lyrical singer at the Darmstadt opera whom he married on 6th of February 1889 in Menton, France. It would seem the union surprised high society members such as Queen Victoria, who was disappointed by the bride and groom’s unequal rank but wished them happiness, nonetheless. It is unclear whether the prince inherited a tiara as a wedding gift or whether he inherited from his father in 1888. Regardless of when he acquired it, Johanna was photographed wearing the tiara as well as other diamond jewellery, commonly adorning her aristocratic contemporaries. In another image, she is wearing only the jewel’s base without the sapphire-set palmettes, which illustrates a characteristic of jewellery from this period in that it was conceived and executed to be worn a multitude of ways. Known officially as the Count and Countess of Hartenau, Alexandre and Johanna had two children, Asen Louis Alexandre (1890-1965) and Marie-Thérèse Vera Zvetana (1893-1935). Alexandre received a pension from the Bulgarian government (which his children would later continue to receive after his death) and sold some of his possessions for some two million leva enabling him to provide a comfortable lifestyle for his family. After Alexandre’s passing on 17th November 1893, Johanna relocated to Vienna where she ran several musical groups including what is now the Vienna Philharmonic.

Asen married Bertha Hussa-Lamos in 1932 but this union was without issue. Johanna eventually became a respected pianist collaborating with composers such as Anton Bruckner and Gustav Mahler until her death on the 20th of July 1951 at the age of 86 and was buried in Graz.

This tiara is being sold with a fitted case signed Robert Koch, although it was certainly made after the tiara itself. The well-known maison, founded in Frankfurt in 1879, was wildly popular and was eventually commissioned by the Russian tsar, the English royal court, the grand-dukes of Bade, of Hess, of Luxembourg and of Mecklembourg-Schwerin as well as the dukes of Anhalt, Saxe-Altenbourg as well as the princes of Schaumbourg-Lippe and German emperors.

·        Richard HOUGH, The First Mountbattens, London, 1974

·        Douglas LIVERSIDGE, The Mountbattens. From Battenberg to Windsor, London, 1978

·        Astrid HUBER, Hanauer Schmuck. Am Beispiel der Firma Kreuter & Co, Hanau, 2015

·        Die Battenbergs. Eine Europaische Familie, Wiesbaden, 2019

Christophe Vachaudez is an author, curator and specialist in Royal European Jewels Collections.