MARIE ANTOINETTE * Hand-Embroidered Lace Nightcap Made by the Guillotined Queen and Exhibited at Versailles
Last Queen of France before the French Revolution, MARIE ANTOINETTE (1755 - 1793) incredibly scarce partial lace night cap featuring intricate, hand-embroidered floral decoration sewn by the Queen herself, with truly exceptional provenance and contemporary expert authentication.
In 1867, touched by the tragic fate of Marie Antoinette, the Empress Eugenie of France set up a commission to locate and select furniture, art, and personal objects having belonged to Antoinette to be exhibited in the Trianon at Versailles. After scouring both the state’s and private collections across France, the commission selected just 144 items for the exhibition. This partial nightcap was #85 in the catalog and retains original letters and notes from its exhibition.
More recently, the French Ministry of Culture had sought this national treasure for exhibit at the re-opening of Marie Antoinette's refurbished apartments at Versailles in June 2023.
The nightcap was given by Marie-Antoinette, Queen of France to Hélène Augustine Guillauden, Countess of Néel, whose husband Armand-Gérôme-Aimé, Count of Néel, was master of camp in the regiment of Vermandois, and a gentleman of the house of the Duke of Angoulême. King Louis XVI signed their marriage contract on April 15, 1787.
The Antoinette night cap is framed under glass in a large gilt frame, and accompanied on the front by a handwritten period paper from its original exhibition, inscribed: "bottom of night cap / embroidered by Marie Antoinette, Queen of France.”
The 1867 exhibition catalog titled “Catalog des Objets Exposés, sous les auspices de Sa Majesté L'Impératrice, par M. de Lescure, Paris, Henri Plon, 1867”, under no 85 describes the piece as: "Headdress (bottom of night cap) embroidered by Queen Marie Antoinette and given by her to one of her ladies, the Countess of Néel, whose husband was a gentleman of the sleeve of the Dukes of Angouleme and Berry in 1789. The Countess de Néel died around 1830, and this object comes from her through an authentic channel. Belongs to M. le docteur Bonnejoye."
Maxime Charron, founder of Royal Provenance and an internationally recognized authority in the field of Historical Souvenirs has independently authenticated this item, as well, and it is featured on his Instagram page.
The back of the frame includes several important documents of origin, including:
An envelope: "at Trianon on the lower shelf. Service of the Emperor (House of the Empress). Monsieur le docteur Bonnejoy, rue Fontaine St Georges 43, Paris ".
A partly handwritten letter on the letterhead of the Secretariat of the Commands of H.M. The Empress (Eugenie), Paris, May 9, 1867 : " Sir, you have sent to the Empress a petition by which you offer for the exhibition of Trianon an object in embroidery having belonged to the queen Marie-Antoinette. I have the honor to inform you, Sir, that according to the established rule, I have transmitted this request to Count Lepic, Superintendent of the Imperial Palaces. (...) signed by Mr. Damas-Hinard."
A handwritten paper: "Paris, December 31, 1928. Dr Bonnejoy's son has given this hat to Mr Mons, and Mr Mons has given it to Mr Zippeau 65 rue de Clichy. Mr. Zippeau sold it to Mr. Paul Lederlin 22 avenue du Bois de Boulogne in Paris.
Given by Marie-Antoinette of Austria, Queen of France (1755-1793) to Hélène Augustine Guillauden, Countess of Néel ( - c.1830), whose husband Armand-Gérôme-Aimé, Count of Néel (c.1807-1852), master of camp in the regiment of Vermandois, and a gentleman of the house of the Duke of Angoulême.
Then Dr. Ernest Bonnejoy (1833-1896)
-Then to his son
-Then to Mr. Mons
-Then to Mr. Zippeau
-Then to Paul Lederlin (1868-1949), senator of the Vosges then of Corsica
-Then French private collections
Frame has not been opened or examined. Measures 16” x 19.75” overall. Display is in good, original condition with some wrinkling to matted fabric background edges. Lace condition as shown with staining and discoloration from age, handling and exhibition.
Own a remarkable, investment-quality piece of world history! An ideal museum acquisition, or for the Francophile, Royal collector, or History aficionado.
We have been able to locate just 2 other items embroidered by the Queen – one being a firescreen panel which resides in the MET museum, and the other was a purse embroidered by the Queen which sold for $133,630 back in 2008. This is an exceptional opportunity to add a real piece of art created by the legendary Queen of France.
Sold as is, as shown.
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