Auctions

Tiaras Linked to Joséphine Bonaparte Sell for $762K Total

AuctionsDec 08, 2021

Tiaras Linked to Joséphine Bonaparte Sell for $762K Total

Sotheby’s “London Treasures” auction featured several other jewels believed to have belonged to the empress.

20211208_Sothebys London tiara header.jpg
This tiara by Jacques-Amboise Oliveras, which is believed to have belonged to Empress Joséphine Bonaparte, sold for £126,000 ($166,672) at Sotheby’s recent “London Treasures” auction.
London—Two tiaras believed to have belonged to Empress Joséphine Bonaparte were sold at auction Tuesday as part of Sotheby’s London Treasures sale.

Joséphine became the empress of France in 1804 when her husband Napoléon took the throne.

Both tiaras are part of parures and showcase the age’s Neoclassical style.

The jewels also provide a historical glimpse into Napoléon’s reign, featuring ancient Roman motifs, a favorite of the ruler as he looked to assert the legitimacy of his power in post-revolution France.


The carnelian, enamel and gold parure, circa 1808, seen above, had been on display at the Victoria and Albert Museum for the past century, said Sotheby’s.

The set includes a diadem set with 25 carnelian intaglios, as well as a pair of pendant earrings, a hair comb, and a belt ornament.

It sold for £450,660 ($596,133), well above its £200,000-£300,000 estimate.

The second tiara, seen at the top, is also part of a set. 

It is gold with blue enamel and features five oval-shaped hardstone cameos that depict the Greek gods and goddesses Medusa, Zeus, Pan, Bacchus, and Gaia.

The tiara and the accompanying belt clasp and belt ornament were crafted circa 1805 and may include some ancient cameos, said Sotheby’s. The pieces are credited to Jacques-Amboise Oliveras. 

The set sold for £126,000 ($166,672), toward the low end of its £100,000 to £200,000 estimate.

 Related stories will be right here … 

Other jewels said to belong to the empress as well as several cameos and intaglios were also included in the London Treasures sale.

A carnelian intaglio with Bacchus, also believed to have belonged to Empress Joséphine, sold for £52,920 ($70,002), well above its £10,000-£15,000 estimate.

A stone agate cameo of a warrior, thought to be either Hannibal or Pyrrhus, from the 17th or 18th century, set in a partially enameled brooch mount, was also said to have belonged to the empress.

It sold for £39,060 ($51,668), far above its £10,000 to £15,000 estimate.

A choker circa 1810, set with several cameos and intaglios, sold for £37,800 ($50,001), at the top end of its £30,000-£50,000 estimate.

A necklace circa 1800, featuring four carnelian animal intaglios, sold for £3,780 ($5,000), five times the high-end of its £500 to £700 estimate.

The top lot of the auction was a nautilus cup with Dutch silver-gilt mounts crafted by artist Jacob Claesz de Grebber in Amsterdam around 1628.

The cup sold for £1.8 million, more than double its estimated £600,000.

The lot with the highest pre-sale estimate was the earliest known example of a postage stamp, said Sotheby’s, known as the 1840 Penny Black.

Sotheby’s estimated the stamp would garner as much as £6 million, but it did not sell.

Overall, all but eight of the 30 lots were sold, including 10 selling within their estimates and 12 selling above.

The auction brought in a total of nearly £4 million ($5.3 million).

For more information about the auction results, visit Sotheby's website.

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