Parure of "drinking doves"
France, around 1803
Gold, silver, diamonds, enamelled
This parure consists of a chain with gold-enamelled platelets and set with diamonds, depicting the motif of four drinking doves. This is a gem presented by Empress Josephine to one of her Court Ladies. At this period, gems are often given as a token of love, friendship, or as diplomatic gifts. This was a custom already in existence for centuries, when numerous monarchs used to offer jewels to their subjects in recognition for their services or to other monarchs whom they valued as friends. This set is inscribed as follows: "Offered on 16 April 1803 by Empress Josephine to Eugenie de Serraz, maternal grandmother of Henri de Panisse" . The return to themes of Antiquity as depicted in jewellery motifs is inspired by the multiple discoveries of the antique ruins in Tivoli and Pompey. As already mentioned, it is only at the Imperial Court of Napoleon that diamond parures will be worn. During the day, the display of the jewelled parures will be more discreet than during official receptions or social occasions. Empress Josephine, elegant and known for her refined tastes, encourages the fashionable ladies of her entourage to follow her example. Lover of precious stones and of all things luxurious, the Empress is disposed to extreme extravagance. Napoleon will offer her numerous jewelled parures as private gifts and that are not part of the State Treasury. Many parures of the Old Regime and of the Crown of France will be taken apart to be reset to befit contemporary tastes and fashions.