Sotheby’s Unveils Treasures from the Most Important Viennese Imperial and Royal Jewellery Collection Ever to Come to Auction.
Auctions in Geneva on 6 & 7 November during Sotheby’s Luxury Week.
Sotheby’s will present Vienna 1900: An Imperial and Royal Collection this November. This is the most important and most extensive Viennese Imperial and Royal Jewellery collection ever to appear at auction.
With provenance from all the most prominent European royal houses linked to the Austrian Habsburg dynasty, the auction will offer an extraordinary jewellery journey through the lives of Central Europe’s most influential ruling families across the 19th and early 20th centuries.
Comprising over 200 pieces, the collection resurfaces for the first time in nearly a century. The collection has only recently been discovered in a bank vault. All the pieces are in perfect condition and their original design.
Estimated 3M – 5M CHF ($3.3M – $5.6M), this extraordinary single-owner collection will appear in two dedicated auctions on 6 & 7 November. The Magnificent Jewels sale will occur on 8 November during Sotheby’s Luxury Week in Geneva.
Before the auction dates, Sotheby’s will exhibit the collection worldwide. The tour started on 7 September in New York, then Cologne, Paris, Hong Kong, Bangkok, Singapore, Dubai, Taipei and London.
This collection is arguably the most important Noble Jewels auction since the landmark sale of the Royal Jewels from the Bourbon Parma Family held by Sotheby’s in Geneva four years ago. The collection is truly exceptional, boasting a unique combination of magnificent ceremonial court jewels worn by the women of Europe’s elite and royal families, as well as important assemblage of men’s dress accessories, cigarette cases and objets de vertu. Presented together, their superior craftsmanship and exquisite design brilliantly showcases the style and grandeur of the Habsburg court and permit us a rich and fascinating glimpse into the private lives of these European ruling Houses when the court of Vienna was at its most powerful and opulent.Andres White Correal, Deputy Chairman and Jewellery Senior Director, Sotheby’s
A Little Bit of History
Following the fall of the monarchy in France, Vienna saw its rapid rise as the ultimate Royal and Imperial court in Europe, welcoming royal families from across the continent. The most awe-inspiring splendour and glory in Western court life were in Vienna at that time, and this unique Royal and Imperial jewellery collection is both its most faithful witness and its most dazzling representative, offering a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to acquire historic pieces from a scintillating bygone era.
The collection fascinatingly depicts the grandeur of Viennese court life. It affords a fascinating insight into the alliances, tastes and styles of the Houses of Habsburg, Bourbon-Parma, Bourbon-Two Sicillies and Saxe-Coburg-Gotha when they were setting fashion trends at the Court that radiated across Europe from the early 19th century and for the next 100 years.
The collection features outstanding jewels from the collections of Archduchess Margarete Sophie of Austria (1870-1902), Archduchess Maria Immaculata of Austria-Tuscany (1878-1968) and Archduchess Marie Therese of Austria-Teschen (1845-1927) as well as of Tsar Ferdinand I of Bulgaria (1861-1948) and Princess Marie Louise of Bourbon-Parma (1870-1899).
Emperor Franz Joseph (1830-1916) and his legendary consort, Empress Elisabeth (1837-1898), dictated fashions at the Viennese court, best remembered by her nickname ‘Sissi’ and famed beauty. When German court portrait artist Franz Xaver Winterhalter immortalised Sissi in 1865, wearing an arrangement of star-shaped diamond jewels in her elaborate hairdo, she started a trend for versatile star-shaped jewellery that lasted through the late 19th century.
The sale features a charming suite of three diamond stars that can transform into brooches, hairpins or a tiara frame (estimate: 9,000 – 13,000 CHF).
In the 1870s, Emperor Franz Joseph commissioned the court jeweller Köchert to remodel the Habsburg ruby and diamond parure in a fluid, naturalistic, floral style. Köchert revisited the concept in the transformable ruby and diamond necklace created for the Emperor’s niece, Archduchess Margarete Sophie of Austria (estimate: 110,000 – 160,000 CHF). This necklace was conceived as a parure with a ruby and diamond brooch (estimate: 90,000 – 130,000 CHF).
Natural pearls reigned supreme during the 19th century. The collection’s central piece is an extraordinary corsage ornament in the garland style, supporting exceptional natural pearls. It was presented to Archduchess Marie Therese of Austria-Teschen (1845-1927) as a wedding gift in 1865 (estimate: 270,000 – 450,000 CHF).
This is undoubtedly the most significant 19th-century jewel to auction in recent years.
Other highlights include an important brooch featuring a button- and drop-shaped natural pearl (estimate: 270,000 – 450,000 CHF), a natural pearl and diamond tiara by Köchert (estimate: 270,000 – 450,000 CHF) and a five-strand natural pearl necklace (estimate: 140,000 – 220,000 CHF).