Sotheby’s Vienna 1900 Collection: A Royal Showcase

Sotheby’s, renowned for curating exquisite collections, recently presented the grandeur of “Vienna 1900: An Imperial and Royal Collection.”

This remarkable assembly of Viennese Imperial and Royal Jewellery is a treasure trove of Central Europe’s opulent history, steeped in the legacy of the Austrian Habsburg dynasty and their illustrious European counterparts. Let’s delve into the opulence of this unprecedented collection.

A Rediscovered Gem

Hidden away in a bank vault for nearly a century, this collection resurfaces in all its original glory, comprising over 200 pieces. With an estimated value ranging from $3.3M – $5.6M, it’s a testament to the enduring allure of royal jewellery. The collection will be showcased in two dedicated auctions on the 6th and 7th of November, coinciding with Sotheby’s Luxury Week in Geneva, where connoisseurs and collectors will have a chance to acquire these exceptional pieces.

Sotheby's Vienna 1900 Collection: A Royal Showcase

Before the auctions commence, this extraordinary collection will embark on a global tour, starting in New York on 7th January. It will then grace the cities of Cologne, Paris, Hong Kong, Bangkok, Singapore, Dubai, Taipei, and finally, London. This extensive exhibition will offer aficionados a unique opportunity to witness the magnificence of Central European court life.

A Curatorial Triumph

Sotheby’s, in collaboration with Philipp Württemberg Art Advisory GmbH, has meticulously prepared this collection for auction. Their expertise ensures that each piece maintains its historical and aesthetic integrity, providing an authentic glimpse into a bygone era.

As the monarchy in France waned, Vienna ascended as the epicentre of European royalty. This collection paints a vivid picture of Viennese court life, showcasing the tastes and styles of the Habsburgs, Bourbon Parmas, Bourbon-Two Sicilies, and Saxe-Coburg-Gotha during the 19th and early 20th centuries. Notable pieces include those from Archduchess Margarete Sophie of Austria (1870-1902), Archduchess Maria Immaculata of Austria-Tuscany (1878-1968), Tsar Ferdinand I of Bulgaria (1861-1948), and Princess Marie Louise of Bourbon-Parma (1870-1899).

Emperor Franz Joseph (1830-1916) and Empress Elisabeth, affectionately known as ‘Sissi‘ (1837-1898), greatly influenced Viennese fashion. Sissi’s iconic star-shaped diamond jewels, famously immortalized by Franz Xaver Winterhalter in 1865, ignited a star-shaped jewellery trend that spanned the late 19th century. Notably, the collection features a charming suite of three diamond stars, versatile enough to be worn as brooches, hairpins, or on a tiara frame.

The Köchert Revolution

In the 1870s, Emperor Franz Joseph commissioned court jeweller Köchert to reimagine the Habsburg ruby and diamond parure in a naturalistic, floral style. This concept extended to the ruby and diamond necklace created for Archduchess Margarete Sophie of Austria, complemented by a matching brooch.

Natural pearls held sway during the 19th century, exemplified by an extraordinary corsage ornament presented to Archduchess Marie Therese of Austria-Teschen (1845-1927) as a wedding gift in 1865. This masterpiece takes centre stage as one of the most significant 19th-century jewels to grace an auction in recent years. Additional highlights include a striking brooch featuring button- and drop-shaped natural pearls, a natural pearl and diamond tiara by Köchert, and a five-strand natural pearl necklace.


“Vienna 1900: An Imperial and Royal Collection” is an unparalleled opportunity to own a piece of Central Europe’s regal past. Each jewel within this collection whispers secrets of a bygone era when Vienna radiated as the epitome of grandeur. Sotheby’s invites you to embark on this regal journey through time and history, celebrating the splendour of Vienna’s Imperial and Royal legacy. Don’t miss your chance to be part of this captivating narrative as these treasures go under the hammer in November.

Images: Sotheby’s