Coronet and Case thumbnail 1
Coronet and Case thumbnail 2
+16
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Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Jewellery, Rooms 91, The William and Judith Bollinger Gallery

This object consists of 2 parts, some of which may be located elsewhere.

Coronet and Case

1840-2 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

Queen Victoria's sapphire and diamond coronet was designed by Prince Albert in 1840, their wedding year. It matched the sapphire and diamond brooch that Albert gave to Victoria the day before their wedding. Standing as the symbol of her royal status, the crown was worn around her chignon on the back of her head in 1842 in the first official portrait of the young Queen to be painted by Franz Xaver Winterhalter. Multiplied in copies and engravings, the portrait became one of the defining images of the queen in Great Britain and overseas.

The design of the coronet, based on the Saxon Rautenkranz which is borne on Prince Albert’s coat of arms, is documented as being by the Prince. The jeweller was Joseph Kitching. Most of the stones came from jewellery given to Victoria by King William IV and Queen Adelaide.

The use of the coronet in the portrait by Winterhalter is a brilliant device, an affirmation of Victoria’s authority as sovereign which does not detract from the charm and beauty of her as a young woman. The coronet is one of the most significant jewels of her reign, part of the story of the young Victoria, who before her widowhood delighted in coloured gemstones. In 1866, just over four years after Albert’s death, she wore the coronet on top of her head at the first Opening of Parliament she felt able to attend since her loss.
watch Queen Victoria's sapphire and diamond coronet Queen Victoria's stunning sapphire and diamond coronet is on permanent public display in our Jewellery Galleries – home to our world-class jewellery collection.
object details
Categories
Object Type
Parts
This object consists of 2 parts.

  • Coronet
  • Case
Materials and Techniques
Coronet: brilliant-cut and single-cut diamonds open-set in silver lined with gold. Step-cut sapphires open-set in gold.
Brief Description
Queen Victoria's sapphire and diamond coronet, designed by Prince Albert, made by Joseph Kitching, London, 1840-2, and case, ca. 2011
Physical Description
Sapphire and diamond coronet in the form of the Saxon Rautenkranz (chaplet of rue). Brilliant-cut and single-cut diamonds open-set in silver lined with gold. Step-cut sapphires open-set in gold. The coronet is articulated in 23 sections. The crest is formed of a single line of diamonds arranged in festoons. The points of the crests are mounted alternately with diamond-set trefoils and single diamonds which graduate in size from a high central trefoil towards the two ends. The flaring band tapers from the middle towards the rear of the coronet. A single line of diamonds runs around the top and around the bottom of the band. The open frieze is mounted with eleven sapphires which alternate with diamond-set foliage. At the back, the diamond frieze ends with a tie of St Andrew's-cross shape in diamonds, one half of the cross on one side, the other half of the cross on the other. Each terminal has a small gold elongated oval loop to enable the two sides to be tied with a ribbon.



The central sapphire is octagonal. The colour is pale on part of the proper right side, and, probably for that reason, a band of dark blue enamel runs around the inside of the mount on the back. The stone is flanked by sapphires of calf's head shape, one on each side. Thereafter octagonal stones, alternating with stones of calf's-head shape, are set in diminishing size down both sides of the coronet.



It appears that the band was formely joined by pins to a supporting frame, perhaps similar to those used with tiaras which have a velvet- covered wire beneath them into which the wearer's hair can be woven. The evidence for the structure beneath the coronet is that there are five holes (empty and filled) visible in the mounts of the lower line of diamonds of the band. One is under the central octagonal sappire. Two are in the middle of the two sides of the band. Two are in the terminal sections of the band. The central hole and two terminal holes are still filled with a short length of wire which runs up to the top of the mount for the lower line of diamonds on the frieze (see the photographs showing the backs of the terminals and the back of the setting for the central sapphire). The two holes in the middle of the sides are now empty.



These five holes would once have held wires which were struts attacted to a horizontal frame. For an example of a frame, see the Manchester Tiara (M.6-2007). The articulation in the coronet would have allowed the jewel to be worn as a circular coronet or with an open back. Alternative frames would have kept the jewel in whichever shape was desired. For a jewel with small coronet and tiara frames, see the Girls of Great Britain and Ireland Tiara in Hugh Roberts, The Queen's Diamonds, Royal Collection Publications, 2012, pp. 136-141, 146.



At the terminals are two oval gold loops for a ribbon, as noted above. They appear to be later additions. Previously there was a three-part joint (or hinge) formed of three knuckles. The top and bottom knuckles of the joint are on one side. The middle knuckle of the joint is on the other. A pin ran through the knuckles from top to bottom to hold the two sides together.



The original knuckles have been separated. On side A (proper right: this appears on the left of the photograph of the terminals of the coronet: 2017KA9170) the middle knuckle has a short pin through it, which sufficiently extends above and below the knuckle to allow it to pass through new small knuckles to which a loop is soldered.



On side B (proper left) the space previously occupied by the middle knuckle (which is still on side A) has been filled by a new knuckle to which a loop has been soldered.



In short, the evidence appears to be that the coronet was made so that it could be a complete circle, which was symbolised by the tie at the back formed of St. Andrew's cross of diamonds. At some date the joint at the back was taken apart and a loop was mounted on each of the two sides.



If the coronet had been made from the first to have the loops, they would have had identical fixtures on the terminals. In the present state of the coronet, one loop is attached to the old central knuckle and the other loop is attached using the old top and bottom knuckles.



Circular blue leather fitted case (made ca. 2011).



Dimensions
  • Diameter: 115mm (approximately) (Note: Approximate east-west measurement when coronet is in closed coronet form)
  • Height: 38mm (Note: Height of coronet )
  • Width: 185mm (Note: Widest measurement when coronet is opened wide)
  • Depth: 120mm (approximately) (Note: front of coronet to notional line between two extended arms when they are in the open position)
Credit line
Purchased through the generosity of William & Judith, Douglas and James Bollinger as a gift to the Nation and the Commonwealth
Object history
Coronet:

Queen Victoria

King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra

King George V and Queen Mary

Given by King George V to Princess Mary (later The Princess Royal), on her marriage in 1922 to Viscount Lascelles (the Earl of Harewood from 1929)

By descent

Acquired by a London dealer; subsequently sold to another dealer who applied for an export licence in 2015

Acquired by the Victoria and Albert Museum, 2017, through the generosity of William & Judith, Douglas and James Bollinger as a gift to the Nation and the Commonwealth



1. The commissioning of the coronet



Research into the royal jewels has revealed that an inventory begun in 1837 and later kept by Mrs Tuck, Queen Victoria’s dresser, records that the coronet, ‘in the shape of the Saxon Rautenkranz’, was ‘Designed by H.R.H. Prince Albert’ and made by Joseph Kitching in 1840, and that most of the stones came from a gift of jewellery to Victoria from King William IV and Queen Adelaide (information generously communicated by Sir Hugh Roberts, Surveyor Emeritus of The Queen’s Works of Art and author of The Queen’s Diamonds, Royal Collection Publicatins, 2012). This information is repeated in later records. For example in Queen Victoria's Will the coronet is described as ‘Designed by H.R.H. Prince Albert and set by Kitching. Most of the stones belonging to a former present of King William IV & Queen Adelaide 1840’ (RA VIC/ADDT/263: folio numbered 73776, redacted; Royal Archives, Windsor Castle. The permission of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II to quote from documents in this entry is gratefully acknowledged)). An inventory in 1896 states that the coronet was ‘in the shape of the Saxon Rautenkranz’ (RA VIC/ADDT/316/17 verso),



Payment of £415 for the ‘Small Coronet’ is noted in Victoria’s private account book in a list headed ‘1842 – For Jewelry for myself’ (RA Add. T/231, fol 19, cited by Bury, 1991, p. 313). There is no detail on what charge this may have included for stones additional to those 'belonging to a former present of King William IV & Queen Adelaide'. Victoria's Journal records their gifts of jewellery in the 1830s, including a pair of sapphire and diamond earrings, but these are inadequate to account for the eleven sapphires in the coronet.



Joseph Kitching was the former apprentice of the fashionable jeweller, Thomas Gray, who supplied the Prince of Wales. He set up on his own account in 1817, two years after his marriage to Jemima Euphemia Vistirin. From the first he had orders from the Prince Regent, and by 1830 he was at 46 Conduit Street, where the firm, which in due course became Collingwood, traded until1986. His partnership, by then styled Kitching and Abud, was named ‘Jewellers to the Queen’ in 1837 (John Culme, Directory of Gold and Silversmiths…1838-1914, Woodbridge, 1987, vol. 1, pp. 89-90; Charlotte Gere and Judy Rudoe, Jewellery in the Age of Queen Victoria (London, 2010), p. 37; Patricia Oliver, http:// archiver.rootsweb.ancestry.com/th/read/LONDON/2005- 12/1135431523, accessed 18/07/2016).



The fact that the coronet follows the form of the Saxon Rautenkranz, which runs diagonally across the shield in the coat of arms of Saxony borne by Prince Albert, underlines the Prince’s documented involvement in the design. This is entirely in keeping with his close interest in Victoria’s jewels. Victoria wrote in her Journal on Christmas Eve, 1842, ’Splendid indeed were the presents my beloved one gave me, amongst them the rearrangement of some of my Jewels, to be worn in different ways'. On 22 February 1843 she described the care Albert took over the jewels: ‘We were very busy looking over various pieces of old jewelry of mine, settling to have some reset, in order to add to my fine “parures”. Albert has such taste, and arranges everything for me about my jewels’ (Bury, 1991, p. 311; RA VIC/MAIN/QVJ (W) (Princess Beatrice's copies).



The Gothic design of the coronet is in the Romantic spirit, an inspiration to both Victoria and Albert, who shared an admiration for Sir Walter Scott. On 12 May, only three weeks before she began sittings for the Winterhalter portrait, Victoria and Albert, dressed as Queen Philippa of Hainault and King Edward III, hosted a great costume ball for 2000 people. Sittings for Sir Edwin Landseer’s record of the event, which took four years to complete, began on 18 May and continued while Winterhalter was painting the Queen and the Prince.



2. Winterhalter’s first portrait of Queen Victoria, 1842



Recommended by Victoria’s aunt, Louise, Queen of the Belgians, Franz Xaver Winterhalter arrived in London in May 1842, six months after the birth of Victoria’s second child. By the end of July he had completed his first portraits of Victoria and Albert. His portraits of younger women frequently do not emphasize their jewellery, and this accords well with the use of the coronet around her chignon, rather than a dominant crown, or the diamond circlet of George IV, worn on the top of her head.



But, whether or not Winterhalter had a say in the selection of the sapphire coronet for her portrait, it was, above all, Victoria’s new jewel. It matched the sapphire and diamond brooch which Albert had given her on the day before their wedding.



Sir Oliver Millar describes the portraits of Victoria and Albert as ‘an immediate success. Replicas and copies were commissioned without delay’. By 4 December the originals had been let into the walls of the White Drawing Room at Windsor and, wrote Victoria, ‘look so well there’ (Millar, 1992, vol. I, xxiv, p. 286).



Winterhalter was paid the same year for a copy of the Queen for Baroness Lehzen and Count Mensdorff-Pouilly, and for copies of the Queen and the Prince for Louis Philippe, King of the French. Millar’s list of copies includes a pair at the Fürstenbau in Veste Coburg, copies made for the Duchess of Kent and Queen Adelaide, and those in the collection of the Earl of Hardwicke, the Examination School at Cambridge, Burghley, the National Gallery of Art Washington, D.C., Government House, Sydney, as well as examples sold at auction. In the copies the Queen wears the insignia of the Garter, as in a lithograph by F. C. Lewis and an engraving by François Forster, published in 1847 (NPG D35047). A copy of the Garter version was given in the mid-1850s to the recently founded Australian Colony of Victoria. The Garter version is used on the cover of the paperback edition of A.N. Wilson, Victoria: A Life (2015; the portrait given to King Louis Philippe).



The paintings sent to the King of the French were copied on porcelain plaques at Sèvres which were presented to Victoria by Louis Philippe in 1846 and set into the walls of the Council Room at Osborne. Millar notes that already in 1842 copies in enamel were made for the Queen to insert into bracelets. An enamel miniature copy by William Essex was given by Queen Victoria to Prince Albert on his birthday in 1843.



3. The coronet in other portraits



Further portraits in which the sapphire coronet is worn include (with thanks to the websites of the Royal Collection, the National Portrait Gallery and the British Museum):



A. 1844-5. Painting, watercolour on ivory, described in the Royal Collection catalogue as a ‘major work’ by Robert Thorburn (Royal Collection). Queen Victoria is depicted in a medieval-style robe with the coronet worn on the back of her head. ‘The Queen’s medieval costume was intended to counterbalance Prince Albert’s appearance in armour’ in the portrait of Albert with which the painting is paired (https://www.royalcollection.org.uk/ collection/search#/2/collection/421666/queen-victoria- 1819-1901-with-albert-edward-prince-of-wales-1841- 1910. Accessed 5/12/2015).



The portrait was engraved by Henry Thomas Ryall, about 1847. It was copied a number of times on porcelain, one of these being a Berlin porcelain (KPM) plaque painted by Andreas Deckelmann which was incorporated into the royal jewel cabinet by Elkington commissioned by Prince Albert, one of the firm’s most important exhibits at the Great Exhibition. A Meissen plaque on the back is painted with Prince Albert’s arms which the Rautenkranz (Victoria and Albert Art & Love, Royal Collection Publications, 2010, no. 176 - entry by Hugh Roberts).





B. 1866. Illustrated London News, vol. 48, p. 141

Queen Victoria drove into London from Windsor on 6 February 1866 for the Opening of Parliament:

‘A fine morning - Terribly nervous & agitated…Great crowds out, & so I had (for the 1st time since my great misfortune) an Escort. - Dressing after luncheon, which I could hardly touch. Wore my ordinary evening dress, only trimmed with miniver & my cap with a long flowing tulle veil, a small diamond & sapphire coronet, rather at the back & diamonds outlining the front of the cap…’. The coronet was probably worn again the next year. The Journal records that on 5 February 1867 for the Opening of the Parliament which passed the Second Reform Act Victoria ‘Lunched earlier and then dressed. Everything was the same as last year’ (RA VIC/MAIN/QVJ (W) (Princess Beatrice's copies).



Without Albert, Queen Victoria had found it impossible to undergo the ordeal of the ceremonial Opening of Parliament. In 1864 she said that it was ‘totally out of the question’, but in 1866, concerned that Parliament should grant a dowry to her daughter, Princess Helena, about to marry the impecunious Prince Christian of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Augustenburg, as well as an annuity for Prince Alfred, she agreed to be present at the opening (Christopher Hibbert, Queen Victoria, paperback edition, London, 2001, pp. 310-12).



While her State Crown, which she admitted had hurt her a great deal at her Coronation, was borne on a cushion, she wore the much lighter sapphire coronet, which had the added significance of a direct association with her beloved husband. Its role was subsequently taken over by the small diamond crown commissioned from Garrard in 1870, worn at the Opening of Parliament in 1871, and, since 1937, part of the Regalia at the Tower of London (Christopher Hibbert, Queen Victoria, paperback edition, London, 2001, pp. 310-12).



C. 1871. Hand-coloured mezzotint by Samuel Cousins, after Lowes Cato Dickinson.

The coronet worn horizontally on top of the head over a veil (with the sapphires hand-coloured red).



D. 1872. Wood engraving in The Graphic. The coronet worn as in the 1871 mezzotint.



E. 1874. Portrait, oil on canvas, by Henry Richard Graves.

Queen Victoria depicted facing right with the coronet worn as in the 1871 mezzotint.



F. An undated print of Victoria, wearing the coronet as if it were a tiara open at the back, and Albert, both facing right. A related image shows Victoria by herself. Neither image is convincing evidence that Victoria wore the coronet in this manner.





4. Gift to the Princess Royal, 1922



The sapphire coronet was given by King George V to Princess Mary on her marriage to Viscount Lascelles in 1922. It is recorded, as a wedding present, in a photograph displayed in its own case in a manner which shows that it was open at the back. It is possible that the small loops at the back were added at this point. Princess Mary wore the tiara low on her brow to suit the style of the 1920s, as well as slightly higher in later life. The coronet’s connection with the Princess Royal, an outstanding servant to many institutions and causes, is an important further chapter in its history. Members of the family continued to wear the tiara. It served as a wedding tiara in 1992 (http:// orderofsplendor.blogspot.co.uk/2011/12/readers-top-15- tiaras-15-queen.html accessed 13/04/2014; http:// www.royal-magazin.de/england/mary-lascelles- harewood/princess-royal-mary-sapphire.htm accessed 2/01/2016).



Case: made for the coronet, ca. 2011.
Summary
Queen Victoria's sapphire and diamond coronet was designed by Prince Albert in 1840, their wedding year. It matched the sapphire and diamond brooch that Albert gave to Victoria the day before their wedding. Standing as the symbol of her royal status, the crown was worn around her chignon on the back of her head in 1842 in the first official portrait of the young Queen to be painted by Franz Xaver Winterhalter. Multiplied in copies and engravings, the portrait became one of the defining images of the queen in Great Britain and overseas.



The design of the coronet, based on the Saxon Rautenkranz which is borne on Prince Albert’s coat of arms, is documented as being by the Prince. The jeweller was Joseph Kitching. Most of the stones came from jewellery given to Victoria by King William IV and Queen Adelaide.



The use of the coronet in the portrait by Winterhalter is a brilliant device, an affirmation of Victoria’s authority as sovereign which does not detract from the charm and beauty of her as a young woman. The coronet is one of the most significant jewels of her reign, part of the story of the young Victoria, who before her widowhood delighted in coloured gemstones. In 1866, just over four years after Albert’s death, she wore the coronet on top of her head at the first Opening of Parliament she felt able to attend since her loss.

Bibliographic References
  • Leslie Field, The Queen’s Jewels (New York, 1987), pp. 145-6.
  • Shirley Bury, Jewellery 1789-1910 (Woodbridge, 1991), vol. 1, pp. 313-14.
  • Oliver Millar, The Victorian Pictures in the Collection of Her Majesty The Queen, (Cambridge, 1992). Volume 1 (Text; portrait by Winterhalter, 1842), pp. 284-7. Volume 2 (Plates), plate 711.
  • One Hundred Tiaras: An Evolution of Style 1800-1990, exhibition at Wartski, London, 5 March – 19 March 1997 (no.8; and cover illustration of portrait by Winterhalter, 1842). The exhibition of the coronet at Wartski followed an approach by Geoffrey Munn to the Earl of Harewood.
  • Geoffrey C. Munn, Tiaras: A History of Splendour (Woodbridge, 2001), pp. 86-8.
  • Victoria & Albert Art & Love, ed. Jonathan Marsden (Royal Collection Publications, 2010), no. 12 (Winterhalter portrait, 1842, which is also illustrated on the back flap of the dust jacket).
Collection
Accession Number
M.20:1, 2-2017

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record createdApril 5, 2017
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