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Empress Carlota's Grand Piano by Collard & Collard

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Empress Carlota's Grand Piano by Collard & Collard

- Item No.

Royal provenance and superior craftsmanship culminate in this highly important grand piano.

Key Features

  • The Empress Carlota of Mexico once owned this regal Collard & Collard piano
  • Crafted of luxurious bird's eye maple, the stunning instrument was a 25th birthday gift
  • The Empress often played the Rococo piano in her private quarters in Chapultepec Castle
  • Crafted by Collard & Collard, circa 1825
  • 59" wide x 98" length x 38 3/4" high (62" high when open)

Item Details

  • Width:
    59 Inches
  • Height:
    62 Inches
  • Period:
    19th Century
  • Origin:
    England/Ireland
Royal provenance and superior craftsmanship culminate in this highly important grand piano, owned by the Empress Carlota of Mexico and made by the famed London firm of Collard & Collard. The piano was given to the Empress by her brother-in-law, Emperor Franz Joseph of Austria, on the occasion of her 25th birthday in 1865.

The piano itself is a work of art. The body is crafted of luxurious birds-eye maple, polished to a sleek, smooth finish and complemented with scrolling gold gilt wood accents. Three shimmering gold gilt wood legs, hand-carved in the Rococo style, support the entire structure, which, despite its impressive size, seemingly floats in its space. Additional highlights include original ivory and ebony keys, original "certificate of authenticity" by Collard & Collard, and a plaque stating this magnificent instrument was a gift to the Empress.

This piano was housed in the Empress' private quarters in Chapultepec Castle, where she would often sit and play her favorite classical compositions. When the rule of the Empress and her husband, Emperor Maximillian I, ended in 1867, a few pieces of the castle's contents (including this piano) became the property of Mexican government officials. The piano did not appear again until 1915, when it took center stage at the Pan Pacific Exhibition in San Francisco. From there, it was purchased by a private collector who was immediately taken by the piano's beauty and fascinating provenance. Over the decades, stories of this intriguing instrument have surfaced in various newspaper articles and private correspondences, the full record of which accompanies the piano.

Because of the unwavering care taken in the upkeep of this piano in its 184 years of existence, it is in remarkable, working condition. It is an unprecedented event to come across a monumental instrument with the royal provenance and full documentation of this grand piano. In terms of beauty, rarity and history, it is truly one of a kind.

Crafted by Collard & Collard, circa 1825 

59" wide x 98" length x 38 3/4" high (62" high when open)

Empress Carlota of Mexico was born Princess Marie Charlotte Amélie Augustine Victoire Clémentine Léopoldine of Belgium on June 7, 1840, the only daughter of Leopold I, King of the Belgians. On July 27, 1857 in Brussels, Charlotte married her second cousin Archduke Maximilian of Austria, younger brother of Emperor Franz Josef of Austria. They spent several years in Italy as Maximilian served as governor of the provinces of Lombardy and Venetia. In the early 1860s, the ambitious Napoleon III initiated the French intervention in Mexico. France was eager to turn Mexico into a territory, and began searching for a suitable figurehead to serve as the nominal Emperor of Mexico. Maximilian accepted the Mexican crown and the couple sailed for the New World. The imperial couple was crowned at the Catedral Metropolitana in 1864 and chose as their seat Mexico City, making Chapultepec Castle their home. As Empress, Charlotte took the name of Carlota, the Spanish equivalent for Charlotte.

Just a few months after the coronation, Napoleon III began signaling his abandonment of Maximilian under pressures from Mexican revolutionaries, and the French began to withdraw their troops from Mexico. In a desperate attempt to save her husband's throne, Carlota returned to Europe, seeking assistance for her husband from various European leaders. During her futile efforts, she suffered a mental breakdown, and never returned to Mexico. Maximilian was executed under the orders of President Benito Juarez in 1867. Charlotte's mental state continued to fade, and she came under the care of her brother Prince Philippe. She spent her remaining years in seclusion, forever professing her undying love for Maximilian.

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Price: $225,000
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