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Home > Collectible Antiques > General Antiques

Medieval Ivory Diptych Sculpture King Charles

Item ID:4700

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Item description:

Important Austrian German miniature Ivory sculpture art composition to commemorate the Royal wedding of King Charles VIII of France to Princess Anne of Brittany held in 1491. The ivory artwork is carved into the form of an opening walnut the insides depicting the two figures of the Royalties surrounded by maids of honour and court palace officials. Both sides are signed in German as Karl VIII and Ann as well as dated 1491. The text is already faint due to age and time, but still readable under magnification. This exceptional antique European ivory art work measures 55mm tall and 100mm wide when fully opened and has a weight of about 107 grams. The piece is in perfect condition and lifetime guaranteed authentic. The depth and detail of carving, the portraits of the Royalties and the atmosphere depicted are beyond description and typical for all important European medieval ivory works. There are absolutely NO cracks, dents, repairs or other recorded imperfections. Most likely this ivory sculpture was given as a presentation piece to commemorate the celebrations and carries a historical and collector significance. Similar European French and German medieval ivory sculptures and works of art had recently fetched record prices at major auctions and sales, like the 13th century ivory diptych of the Passion of Christ from the Dormeuil Collection with hammer price of 1.5 mill. Euros in a Paris sale. The present piece is an absolutely scarce antique work of art and medieval ivory sculpture collector piece and one of the important and rare European ivory sculptures and miniatures. Provenance: Johannes Mutz collection. Charles VIII, called the Affable (French: l'Affable; 30 June 1470 – 7 April 1498), was King of France from 1483 to his death. Charles was a member of the House of Valois. His invasion of Italy initiated the long series of Franco-Italian wars which characterized the first half of the 16th century. Charles was born at the Château d'Amboise in France, the only surviving son of King Louis XI by his second wife Charlotte of Savoy. Charles succeeded to the throne on August 30, 1483, at age 13. His health was poor and he was regarded by his contemporaries as of pleasant disposition but foolish and unsuited for the business of the state. In accordance with Louis XI's wishes, the regency of the Kingdom was granted to Charles' elder sister, Anne, a formidably intelligent and shrewd woman described by her father as "the least insane woman in France." She would rule as regent, together with her husband Peter II, Duke of Bourbon, until 1491. On December 6, 1491, in an elaborate ceremony at the Château de Langeais, Charles and Anne of Brittany were married. The 14-year-old Duchess Anne, not happy with the arranged marriage, arrived for her wedding with her entourage carrying two beds. However, Charles's marriage brought him independence from his relatives, and thereafter he managed affairs according to his own inclinations. Queen Anne lived at the Clos Lucé in Amboise. There still remained the matter of Charles' first intended, the young Margaret of Austria. Although the cancellation of her betrothal meant that she by rights should have been returned to her family, Charles did not initially do so, intending to marry her usefully elsewhere in France. It was an abominable situation for Margaret, who informed her father in her letters that she was so determined to escape her situation that she would even flee Paris in her nightgown if it gave her freedom. Eventually, in 1493, she was returned to her family, together with her dowry. Charles died in 1498, two and a half years after his retreat from Italy, of an accident. He struck his head on the lintel of a door in Amboise. A few hours later, he fell into a sudden coma, and then died. Charles bequeathed a meager legacy: he left France in debt and in disarray as a result of an ambition most charitably characterized as unrealistic. On a more positive side, his expedition did strengthen cultural ties to Italy, energizing French art and letters in the latter part of the Renaissance. Since all of his children died before him, Charles was the last of the elder branch of the House of Valois. Upon his death, the throne passed to his father's second cousin, the Duke of Orléans, who reigned as King Louis XII of France. Anne of Brittany (25 January 1477 – 9 January 1514), also known as Anna of Brittany (French: Anne de Bretagne; Breton: Anna Vreizh), was a Breton aristocrat, who was to become queen to two successive French kings, and ruling Duchess of Brittany. She was born in Nantes, in Brittany, and was the daughter of Francis II, Duke of Brittany and Margaret of Foix. Her maternal grandparents were Gaston IV of Foix and Eleanor of Navarre. Upon her father's death, she became sovereign Duchess of Brittany, Countess of Nantes, Montfort and Richmont and Viscountess of Limoges. In her time, she was the richest European woman. Anne was the only child of Francis and Margaret to survive childhood (she had a younger sister, Isabeau, who died in 1490). Accordingly, she was brought up as the heiress to the Duchy. She was given a good education under the guidance of Françoise de Dinan, Lady of Laval and Chateaubriant, and the poet Jean Meschinot. Since the Breton War of Succession, Brittany had been understood to operate according to semi-Salic Law – women could only inherit if the male line had died out. By the time Anne was born, her father was the only male left of the Breton House of Dreux. The War of Succession had ended with an agreement that, in the absence of a male heir, the heirs of Jeanne of Penthievre would succeed. After a century, however, this agreement had been forgotten. Thus, in 1486 Anne's father had her recognised as heiress by the Breton estates; however, the question of her marriage remained a diplomatic issue. Francis had no intention of allowing Brittany to be absorbed by France. Therefore, he sought for his daughter a marriage with a figure capable of withstanding French power. Brittany being an attractive prize, Anne had no shortage of suitors. She was officially promised in marriage to Edward, Prince of Wales, son of Edward IV of England in 1481; however, the boy disappeared, and was presumed dead, soon after the death of Edward IV and the accession of his brother, Richard III. Others who bid for her hand included Maximilian of Austria (the widower of Mary of Burgundy, another heiress), Alain d'Albret, Jean de Châlons (Prince of Orange) and even the married Louis, Duke of Orleans. In 1488, however, the armies of Francis II were defeated at Saint-Aubin-of-Cormier, ending the Guerre folle between Brittany and France. In the Treaty of Sablé, which concluded the peace settlement, the Duke was forced to accept clauses stipulating that his daughters were not to marry without the approval of the King of France. Francis died soon afterward, on 9 September 1488, as a result of a fall from his horse. Anne became Duchess, and Brittany was plunged into fresh crisis, leading to the last Franco-Breton war. The first necessary move for Anne was to secure a husband, preferably anti-France and powerful enough to maintain Breton independence. Maximilian I of Austria was considered to be the most suitable candidate. The marriage with Maximilian, which took place at Rennes by proxy on 19 December 1490, gained Anne the title Queen of the Romans but proved to have serious consequences. The French regarded it as a serious provocation: it not only violated the Treaty of Verger (the King of France not having consented to the marriage), but also placed the rule of Brittany in the hands of an enemy of France. The marriage also proved ill-timed: the Habsburgs were too busy in Hungary to pay any serious attention to Brittany, and the Castilians were busy fighting in Granada. Although both Castile and England sent small numbers of troops to supplement the Ducal army, neither wished for open warfare with France. Thus, the Spring of 1491 saw new successes by the French general La Trémoille, and Charles VIII of France came to lay siege to Rennes, where Anne was. After Maximilian failed to come to his bride's assistance, Rennes fell. Anne gave in and was engaged to Charles in the vault of the Jacobins in Rennes. Then, escorted by her army (and thus apparently set free, in order to prove that she willingly consented to the marriage), Anne went to Langeais, to be married. Although Austria made diplomatic protests, claiming that the marriage was illegal because the bride was unwilling, that she was already legally married to Maximilian, and that Charles was legally betrothed to Margaret of Austria, Maximilian's daughter, Anne celebrated her second wedding at the castle of Langeais on 6 December, and married King Charles VIII of France. The marriage was subsequently validated by Pope Innocent VIII on February 15, 1492. The marriage contract provided that whichever spouse outlived the other would retain possession of Brittany; however, it was also agreed that if Charles died without male heirs, Anne would marry his successor, thus ensuring the French Kings a second chance to permanently annex Brittany. Anne's first marriage began badly: she brought two beds with her when she came to marry Charles, and the King and Queen often lived apart. She was anointed and crowned Queen of France at Saint-Denis on 8 February 1492; she was forbidden by her husband to use the title "Duchess of Brittany", which became a bone of contention between the two. When her husband fought in the wars in Italy, the regency powers were exercised by his sister Anne of Beaujeu. Pregnant for most of her married life, Anne lived primarily in the royal castles of Amboise, Loaches and Plessis or in the towns of Lyon, Grenoble or Moulins (when the king was in Italy). She became Queen of Sicily and Jerusalem with the conquest of Naples by Charles VIII. The marriage produced four living children, none of whom survived early childhood. Only the first, Charles Orland (11 October 1492 – 16 December 1495), survived infancy. A healthy and intelligent child, he was doted on by his parents, who both suffered terrible grief when he died suddenly of the measles. After him was born Charles, who lived for less than a month; and Francis and Anne, who each died almost immediately after being born. These tragedies caused a great deal of pain to Anne, who prayed openly for a son after the death of Francis. When Charles VIII died in 1498, Anne was 21 years old and childless. Legally, she was now obliged to marry the new king, Louis XII; however, he was already married, to Jeanne, daughter of Louis XI and sister to Charles VIII. On 19 August 1498, at Étampes, she agreed to marry Louis if he obtained an annulment from Jeanne within a year. If she was gambling that the annulment would be denied, she lost: Louis's first marriage was dissolved by the Pope before the end of the year. Anne failed to survive the winter of 1513-1514, dying of a kidney-stone attack at the Chateau of Blois. She was buried in the necropolis of Saint Denis. Her funeral was of exceptional length, lasting 40 days, and inspiring all future French royal funerals until the 18th century. According to her will, her heart was placed in a raised enamel gold reliquary, then transported to Nantes to be deposited, on March 19, 1514, in the vault of the Carmelite friars, in the tomb made for her parents, later being transferred to the Saint-Pierre cathedral. The reliquary of the heart of the Anne, Duchess of Brittany is a box oval, bivalvular, made of a sheet of gold pushed back and guilloched, articulated by a hinge, broadside of a gold cordelière and topped by a crown of lily and clover. It is inscribed as follows: En ce petit vaisseau De fin or pur et munde Repose ung plus grand cueur Que oncque dame eut au munde Anne fut le nom delle En France deux fois royne Duchesse des Bretons Royale et Souveraine. It was made by an anonymous goldsmith of the court of Blois, perhaps drawn by Jean Perréal. In 1792, by order of the National Convention, the reliquary was exhumed, emptied, and seized as part of a collection of precious metals pertaining to churches, and sent to Nantes to be melted down. However, it was instead kept in the National Library, and was returned to Nantes in 1819, being kept in various museums, and in the Castle of the dukes of Brittany since 2007. Anne was a highly intelligent woman who spent much of her time on the administration of Brittany. She made the safeguarding of Breton autonomy, and the preservation of the Duchy outside the French crown, her life's work: although that goal would prove failed shortly after her death. Anne was also a patron of the arts and enjoyed music. A prolific collector of tapestries, it is very likely that the unicorn tapestries now on view at The Cloisters museum in New York City were commissioned by her in celebration of her wedding to Louis XII. She also commissioned a book of French manuscripts (a Book of Hours), known as The Great Hours of Anne of Brittany She also instituted the Queen's Maids of Honour at the court. One of Anne's legs was shorter than the other, causing a limp. To fix the problem, she wore a higher heel on that leg. Anne kept a box of precious stones and semi-precious stones. She would randomly pick one and give it to her visitors. She was a devoted mother, spending as much time as possible with her children. For her son, Charles-Orland, she commissioned a book of prayers, intended to be used in teaching him how to pray, and as a guidance to him as the future King of France; unfortunately, Charles-Orland died in 1495, and no other son lived more than a few weeks. At her marriage to Charles VIII, aged 14, Anne was described as a young and rosy-cheeked girl; by the time of her marriage to Louis, aged 22, after seven pregnancies with no surviving children, she was described as pale-faced and wan. By the end of her life, at 36, she had been pregnant 14 times, with seven of the children stillborn. Of the remaining seven, only two survived childhood.

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