L a - b e a u t é - s a u v e r a - l e - m o n d e ~ D o s t o ï e v s k i

L a - b e a u t é - s a u v e r a - l e - m o n d e  ~  D o s t o ï e v s k i

Friday, March 17, 2017

Crown in a box - and the coronation of Charles X by Gérard.

Detail of Baron Gérard's coronation  portrait of Charles X.

The French crown jewels having been stolen during the Revolution, a new crown had to be made for Louis XVIII. Napoléon had finally left the stage - again - and the Bourbon Restoration was successfully established, but Louis still thought it politically imprudent to go through with a coronation. So, after modifications, the crown was used for the first and last time at the coronation of his brother and successor, Charles X, at Reims in 1825. The crown went into storage at the fall of Charles in 1830; his cousin, the new "Citizen King", Louis-Philippe, also thought that a coronation would set the wrong tone with the French populace. After he was overthrown, eighteen years later, the Bonapartes came back to power, and Napoléon III - who would also eschew a coronation - had the crown dismantled in 1854, the stones re-used in new jewelry. Then, sixteen years after the collapse of the Second Empire, the frame itself was melted down. A year later came the famous sale of the French Crown Jewels; republican France would never again have use for a crown.

The écrin-couronne; made of stamped and gilded Morocco leather on a wooden base, the crown's fitted case survives.
Gérard's scene of the coronation of Charles X, circa 1827.
Detail of above.
There are many copies and variations of Gérard's coronation portrait, circa 1825.
Detail of above.
A large-scale miniature of Gérard's portrait, the work of Henry Bone, 1829.
Detail of above.
Detail of the Bone miniature.


Lastly, a plaster cast of the crown; casts of finished work were very frequently made by jewelers, especially in the case of important commissions. The crown was originally executed and later adapted by Christophe-Frédéric Bapst to the design of his uncle, Evrard Bapst. The base is in the shape of a band surmounted by sixteen fleur-de-lys alternating in size, the eight largest of which form the bases of arches which gather in the center and are surmounted by a finial in the shape of a fleur-de-lys. The entire surface of the crown was set with diamonds and sapphires - while the surface of the plaster cast is still covered in pencil markings, notes to specify the location of each particular stone.