01 September 2014

Review: Tiara (2000)

(image via Amazon.com)

In 2000, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, Massachusetts held one of the great glittering exhibitions of tiaras: "Crowning Glories: Two Centuries of Tiaras." Sponsored by Chaumet, the exhibition included a dazzling array of sparklers, including pieces that were worn by royal and noble ladies. The entire affair was curated by Diana Scarisbrick, a historian noted for her work on jewelry. As a companion piece to the exhibition, the museum also published a book, Tiara, in which Scarisbrick relates many of the stories behind the sparkling pieces included in the show.

Tiara was published by Chronicle Books in 2000, and it's a pretty substantial tome for an exhibition companion. It's more than a catalogue, as Scarisbrick has incorporated a significant amount of text to accompany the pieces that were shown, but it has clear ties to the exhibition itself. The book begins with an essay by Scarisbrick on the historical development of the tiara as an art form. Subsequent chapters form a "gallery," in which the pieces included in the exhibition are arranged according to their creation date.

Featured in the book: Margherita of Savoy's laurel tiara

The gallery spans two hundred years of tiaras, beginning with pieces from the Napoleonic era and moving into contemporary examples. The book also includes a brief description of Chaumet's in-house collection of tiara designs and concludes with a checklist of the pieces included in the exhibition. This last bit is especially helpful for those interested in specific tiaras, as it includes information on the maker of each piece, the materials used, and the ownership of the tiara ca. 2000.

30 August 2014

Saturday Sparkler: The Antique Corsage Tiara

In Scandinavian royal families, it's something of a tradition for a princess to receive her first tiara as a gift on her eighteenth birthday. In Denmark, King Frederik IX and Queen Ingrid gave all three of their daughters, including Queen Margrethe II, eighteenth-birthday tiaras. Today, let’s talk about the birthday gift bestowed precisely fifty years ago today on the family’s other queen: Frederik and Ingrid’s youngest daughter, Anne-Marie. (Happy Birthday, Your Majesty!)

Queen Victoria of Sweden

The tiara that was given to the future Greek queen began its life as another piece of jewelry: a corsage ornament (or stomacher) that belonged to Queen Victoria of Sweden, Anne-Marie’s great-grandmother (hence the piece’s usual name).