MARIE - ANTOINETTE BLUE
Queen Marie Antoinette of France was born in 1755. In 1770 she was betrothed to the Dauphin, afterwards Louis XVI, of France. Her behavior and extravagance were to make her unpopular in France while her hatred of radical politicians played a part in the events leading up to the French Revolution. She was guillotined on 16 October 1793, after a trial during which her dignity and courage impressed even her judges.
One example of the Queen's extravagance was her preoccupation with jewels. Her taste differed from those of her predecessors with the result that many items among the Crown Jewels were constantly being set and reset to please her. When she arrived in France she brought with her this greyish-blue heart-shaped diamond. weighing 5.46 (metric) carats, which was set in a ring. It remained the private property of Marie Antoinette so was not among the Crown Jewels that were deposited in the Garde Meuble in 1791. Shortly before her execution she gave the ring to Princess Lubomirska, one of her closest confidantes.
Princess Lubomirska, who was Polish was an ardent collector of works of art; during the periods of the French Revolution she bought quantities of eighteenth century furniture which she shipped back to Poland. After her death and in the absence of a male heir her vast estates passed to her four daughters, three of whom married members of the Potocki family. It is recorded that the blue diamond was owned at some time by Count Wladimir Potocki. Next it turned up in the possession of a Mr Poplavisky who gave it to his wife, Nina; subsequently she married Mr Godovannikov. In 1955 the diamond was shown at the exhibition entitled 'Marie Antoinette, Archiduchesse, Dauphine et Reine' staged at the Chateau de Versailles. Prior to then it had been displayed at earlier exhibitions, notably those held in Paris in 1892 and 1900.
In 1967 the 'Marie Antoinette Blue' was sold at the Palais Galliera in Paris to a private European buyer. Finally Christie's put it up for sale in Geneva on 12 May 1983; on that occasion it remained unsold.
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