Répresentation Exacte du Grand Collier en Brillants des Srs. Boëhmer et Bassenge

Various artists/makers

Not on view

This print shows a to-scale representation of the diamond necklace, central in the so-called 'Affair of the Necklace', which brought scandal upon the French Royal family and Queen Marie-Antoinette in particular in the years leading up to the French Revolution. The necklace had initially been commissioned by the French King Louis XV from the Parisian jewelers Bassenge et Böhmer for his mistress, Madame du Barry (Jeanne Bécu de Cantigny). The design for the necklace contained a total of 540 diamonds and King Louis XV died before the jewelers could complete the commission. Left in dept due to their great investment, and without a buyer for the exuberant piece, Böhmer and Bassenge offered the necklace to the new queen, Marie-Antoinette, who declined the offer. The necklace then became the protagonist in a scheme involving the Cardinal the Rohan (Louis-René-Édouard, prince de Rohan) and his mistress the Comptesse de la Motte (Jeanne de Valois-Saint-Rémy). The Cardinal re-opened negotiations with the jewelers Böhmer and Bassenge, informing them of the Queen's renewed interest and convinced them that she would pay them for it in installments. The jewelers accepted this arrangement and handed the necklace over to Rohan, who gave it to his mistress, whom in turn, fled the palace with it. When the jewelers wrote to Marie-Antoinette to inquire when they would receive their payment, the scheme was discovered. Both Rohan and the Comptesse de la Motte were apprehended and put to trial. They were not the only ones to pay the price, however. Public opinion turned against the Queen, who was accused of plotting the whole scheme to rid herself of Cardinal de Rohan. Böhmer and Bassenge were left bankrupt, as they never received payment for the necklace, which itself had disappeared and was believed to have been taken apart. De la Motte's husband, Nicholas de la Motte, was caught selling some of the diamonds in London shortly after. Several reproductions of the necklace have been made based on this print published by Nicholas Antoine Taunay in the 1780s.

Répresentation Exacte du Grand Collier en Brillants des Srs. Boëhmer et Bassenge, Nicolas Antoine Taunay (French, Paris 1755–1830 Paris), Etching

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