What’s going on in the world of royal jewels and royal research?
When I find out about auctions, exhibitions, new book releases, and more, I’ll drop them here just for you. If you’re lucky enough to visit one of the exhibitions, send me pictures! Or if you have more information to add to this page, drop me a line.
DATE: September 19
This auction is titled “Visions of Collecting: Royal and Aristocratic, An Important Private Collection.” Whose collection? We don’t know, but they had some beautiful and historically significant stuff. My favorite piece up for grabs is a painting of Princess Sophie, Electress of Hanover by Gerrit van Honthorst. She was the twelfth (twelfth!) child of Charles I’s sister, the exiled Queen of Bohemia. You can see another portrait of her in the UK’s Royal Collection, in which she’s also wearing a blue off-the-shoulder gown. It’s expected to sell for roughly $36,000 - $61,000. I can tell you right now, the buyer will not be me. I got my propane bill and my car insurance bill today. I’ll be lucky if I can buy a stick of gum.
There are two other items I want to point out to you. You can bid on a collection of 8 trays that belonged to Queen Marie of Hanover - they’re painted with her logo. The estimated price is about $1,800 - $3,000, which means they’re expensive AF for some trays, but that royal provenance makes them tempting.
The second item I’m interested in is a five-piece Faberge silver tea and coffee service, circa 1908-1917. The teapot and the coffee pot both have an ivory handle, which I’m not crazy about (ethically or stylistically), but it’s a freakin’ Faberge tea and coffee set. I’m not gonna complain. Except when I have to shell out the expected $12,000 - $18,000 to pay for it.
Downton Abbey: The Movie
Date: September 20
It’s finally here! I’ve missed this series SO MUCH. I’m a very introverted and admittedly self-centered person. When I watched this show, it made me want to be a better person. You see people confronting the hardest situations in all of life, and they do it with grace and quiet determination and an ever-ready wit for all those those formal dinner conversations. I would have been a colossal failure at being a lady, but this show makes me wish I could try.
Holy Mother of God, I forgot how much I love the sparring between the Dowager Countess and Lady Merton (Isobel Crawley).
Exhibit: Queen Victoria’s Palace
DATE: Ending September 29
LOCATION: Buckingham Palace, London
This exhibition celebrates the changes Queen Victoria made to Buckingham Palace. Today, we think of the palace as part of the royal family’s public persona. All those famous balcony moments, right? The waves, the kisses, the totes-adorbs royal kiddos stealing the show...but it wasn’t always that way. Queen Victoria and her husband, Prince Albert, were the ones who took a ho-hum residence and turned it into a focal point of the way people see and interact with the sovereign. Kind of a big deal, right?
As part of the exhibition, you can see the dress Victoria wore to the Stuart Ball in 1851, where everyone dressed up in period costume from the reign of Charles II. You can also see a recreation of the Crimean Ball of 1856, staged using a hologram and other Hollywood special effects. I wish I could see this. The painting below, by Louis Haghe, shows the Buckingham Palace ballroom, newly remodeled in 1856, but if you visit, you’ll get to see the real thing!
DATE: October 12, 2019 - February 23, 2020
LOCATION: Hampton Court
See the silver chamblet silk that comes from a dress that may have belonged to Elizabeth I. Experts believe Elizabeth gave the original silk dress to the parish church at Bacton, in memory of her retired Chief Gentlewoman of the Bedchamber, Blanche Parry. The fabric was then repurposed as an altar cloth.
Now, that fabric is coming to Hampton Court, where it will be displayed next to The Rainbow Portrait. The fabric looks very similar to what’s used in the bodice of Elizabeth’s dress in that painting. Is it the same? No one knows for sure, but anything is possible. Don’t be fooled by headlines that call this Elizabeth’s last surviving dress, however - it’s just the fabric, as the dress was disassembled long ago. If you’re lucky enough to be visiting Hampton Court, your admission ticket gets you into this exhibition, too.
Christie’s Auction: Royal House of Savoy
DATE: October 15
We’ve seen a few auctions with Savoy family items in the past couple years. This one includes art, manuscripts, linen tablecloths, sculptures, antiquities, and two cars from the family collection. Here are some of my favorite items up for grabs:
- Meissen pink floral table service (above). They’re labeled as purple, but hot damn, they look pink to me. I’m drooling over here - I mean, pink Meissen floral with a crown. It doesn’t get much more me than that. Unfortunately, I could either buy these (high estimate: $12,480) or pay to keep a roof over my head for the next year. Shit.
- A 15th century illuminated manuscript of De regimine pricipum, St. Thomas Aquinas’s how-to manual for rulers. If St. Thomas can intercede with the patron saint of the California Lottery by the auction date, maybe I’ll make a bid. This one’s headed for six figures (high end of estimated sale price: $124,8000).
- Portraits of Beatrice of Portugal (1504-1538), Margarita of Savoy (1589-1655), Maria Theresa of Savoy (1801-1855), Polissena D'Assia, Queen of Sardinia (1706-1735), Maria Luisa Gabriella of Savoy, Queen of Spain (1688-1714), Christine of France, Duchess of Savoy (1606-1663), Christina Enrichetta d'Assia (1717-1778), Christine Marie of France (1606 -1663), Margarita of Savoy, Duchess of Parma (17th century), Maria Clementina Sobieski (1702-1735), and two portraits of Maria Theresa of Savoy (1801-1855) (one shown above).
None of these are showstoppers - not like the luminous portrait of Princess Sophia (see September’s auction, above). On the other hand, the high estimates on all these are under $5,000. My top 4 picks are: the two portraits of Maria Theresa of Savoy, Margarita of Savoy, and Margarita of Savoy, Duchess of Parma.
- Limoges porcelain table service with Queen Margherita of Italy’s arms. The lot listing doesn’t say they belonged to her, but a girl can dream, right? I like the Meissen table service better - this one’s pretty plain. But if you love Margherita, it might be worth it. There are 24 dinner plates but only 22 started plates. Guess you can’t exactly get those back by going to Replacements.com, can you? The estimated sale price on this set is $2,496 - $3,744.
- Late 18th century cup and saucer painted with royal portraits (above). Ever wanted to have coffee with King Carlo Emanuele IV, King of Sardinia (1751-1819) and Queen Marie-Clotilde of France (1759-1802)? Now’s your chance. Well, it’s your chance assuming you have at least $3,000.
Other interesting items include a Maori club, an ancient Greek bell-krater with a painting of Dionysus, gorgeous Chinese cinnabar lacquer boxes...and, oh yeah...a 1955 silver Rolls Royce Wraith.
Date: October 17
I can’t wait to read Lady In Waiting: My Extraordinary Life in the Shadow of the Crown by Anne Glenconner.
Anne is the oldest daughter of the Earl of Leicester. She grew up playing with Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret, and later became Margaret’s lady-in-waiting. She married Colin Tennant, Lord Glenconner - he’s the guy who bought Mustique, the island that became Princess Margaret’s favorite getaway spot. Oh, the stories she must have to tell...
Date: October 21
Dude, you guys, this is right up our alley. In this HBO miniseries, Helen Mirren plays Catherine the Great. Guess I’ll be turning on my HBO Now access for the first time since GoT ended...
What do you guys think of Helen Mirren as a Russian empress? She’s a brilliant actress and I’m pretty sure I’ll love this, but I’m having a visual holdup because in all her middle-aged portraits, Catherine’s features are so much rounder than Mirren’s. That full, sensuous, Rubenesque look is what I picture, and Helen Mirren’s features are much thinner and sharper. It’s stupid, I know. I’ll get over it.
I’m also curious as to which historical figures will be featured, and who will, for lack of time, be collapsed or condensed or just plain cut.
As of September 8, the IMDB page isn’t super-enlightening. I compared the cast list to the list of Catherine’s lovers. We have two who came before Potemkin (Vasilchikov and Zavadovsky), Potemkin, and then...three of her next lovers are missing (Rimsky-Korsakov, Lanskoy, Yermolov). The cast list picks up with Mamonov, one of her later lovers. We’re also missing her last lover, Platon Zubov - but his brother, Valerian, is in the cast list. I’m guessing those missing 3 have been skipped to make her relationship with Potemkin the focus. Also, probably to make it look like they were physically faithful to each other for longer than they were. I’m assuming they’re going to skip that whole Potemkin-nailed-three-of-his-six-nieces thing. Even for HBO, that’s sketchy territory.
The Crown: Season 3
Date: November 17
This season of The Crown has a stellar cast I’m super excited about: Olivia Colman as Elizabeth II, Tobias Menzies as Prince Philip, and Helena Bonham Carter as Princess Margaret. Tobias Menzies? I have been in love with that man since season one of Outlander.
Check out the blog for fascinating stories about royal women and their tiaras. And don’t forget to join my mailing list to get Grand Duchess Louise of Baden’s meatloaf recipe! It’s finger-lickin’ good.