Today the Nordic Museum in Stockholm opens a new exhibition showing some 1,000 items of jewellery from the museum’s vast collection. Among the highlights is a neoclassical parure of gold and malachite which has belonged to Queen Sophia of Sweden and of Norway.
The parure consists of a tiara, a necklace, a large brooch, a pair of earrings (one of them damaged) and two bracelets. The tiara is 5 centimetres high and 19 centimetres long, while the necklace measures 44.5 centimetres.
Gold of four nuances surround the cameos carved in malachite with classical scenes after the great Danish sculptor Bertel Thorvaldsen. The central cameo of the tiara shows “day”; the brooch depicts “night”. In the necklace are cameos showing Aiskylos and Hygieia, Hercules and Hebe.
The tiara bears the mark “SP” and the French assay mark 1819-1839, which has made it possible to establish that it was created by the jeweller Simon Petiteau (1782-ca. 1860) in Paris, probably in the 1820s or 1830s.
It has been suggested that the parure may have belonged to Queen Desideria of Sweden and of Norway, and a look at the inventory of her jewels drawn up after her death in December 1860s proves that this is indeed the case. The parure is also listed in the jewellery inventory of her daughter-in-law Queen Josephina following her death in 1876 and then in the inventory after Queen Sophia’s death in 1913.
Apparently none of the heirs of Queen Sophia wanted this parure, which may have seemed very out of date by 1913, and it was decided to donate it to the Nordic Museum. Queen Sophia also owned a similar parure of gold and lava which had also belonged to Queen Desideria and is now the property of Queen Sophia’s great-great-granddaughter, Désirée af Rosenborg, who was given it by her grandmother, Princess Margaretha of Denmark, on her coming of age.
There is also a similar parure, of malachite and pearls, which may have belonged to Empress Joséphine of the French, in the possession of the Fondation Napoléon.
No definite closing date has been set for the exhibition at the Nordic Museum, but it is expected to last at least until May. Read more about the exhibition here (external link). All photos are press photos by Mats Landin, copyright the Nordic Museum.