Gilded Age America had Mrs. Astor, and the Viennese courts had Empress Elisabeth. Better known as “Sissi,” the Viennese noblewoman set the standards of fashion alongside Emperor Franz Joseph. The painted portrait of her by artist Franz Xaver Winterhalter gives us a glimpse of one of the chief trends she set: star-shaped jewelry.
In the portrait, Sissi wears an arrangement of star-shaped diamond jewels in an elaborate hairdo, and soon enough the shape moved en vogue and lasted well into the late 19th century. In early November, collectors and jewelry buffs will be able to participate in the trend, as Sotheby’s is set to auction a suite of three diamond stars that may be worn alternatively as brooches, hairpins, or on tiaras.
But, that’s not it. Vienna 1900: An Imperial and Royal Collection will feature over 200 pieces of rare jewelry with ties similar in the same aristocratic vein as the aforementioned star-shaped accessories. Many of the pieces, which are tied to the European royal houses linked to the Austrian Habsburg dynasty, have never been seen by the public in over a century, having only been discovered hidden away in a bank vault. The sale includes pieces from the private collection 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).
“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,” Andres White Correal, Deputy Chairman and Jewelry Senior Director of Sotheby’s said in a release. “The collection is truly exceptional, a unique combination of magnificent ceremonial court jewels worn by members of Europe’s Royal Families, as well as an important assemblage of men’s dress accessories, cigarette cases, and objets de vertu. Presented together, in addition to their superior craftsmanship and exquisite design, they brilliantly showcase the style and grandeur of the Habsburg court and permit us a rich glimpse into the private lives of these European ruling Houses who gravitated around the court of Vienna.”
Some of the highlights of the sale include a transformable ruby and diamond necklace commissioned by Emperor Franz Joseph for his niece Archduchess Margarete Sophie of Austria in the 1870s and a pearl corsage ornament designed as a garland which was a wedding gift to the Archduchess Marie Therese of Austria-Teschen in 1865.
The sale will take place on November 6 and 7 alongside the Magnificent Jewels sale taking place on November 8 during Sotheby’s Luxury Week in Geneva.
For more more information or to register, please visit sothebys.com.