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Could someone kindly help identify the circled cross from the portrait of Duke Ernst I of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha? The portrait was made by Dawe in 1818 or 1819 and is part of the Royal Collection at Buckingham Palace. The cross seems to be out of the list of Duke's honours.

1527039029_ErnstIvonSachsen-Coburg.thumb.jpg.136bf1e0e9c76109aa49e794646ae71c.jpg

 

And a blow-up of the Duke's awards:

499275304_ErnstIvonSachsen-Coburgawards.jpg.4a479f2a5a5f5799bb03631917d78877.jpg

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Dear Lukasz,

I don't think the painting is detailed enough to establish which order is represented, however, if I had to make a guess I would choose the Saxon Merit Order (Sächsiche Verdienstorden) or the Order of the Netherlands Lion (Orde van de Nederlandse leeuw).

What I find quite peculiar is that the lower left area of the cross seems to have something which might be identified as a swordhilt (which would rule out the Order of the Netherlands Lion), however, the lower right side seems to miss this hilt-like device.

Kind regards, Laurentius

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Dear Laurentius,

thank you very much for the quick answer.

The Order of the Netherlands Lion was one of my guesses as well. Honestly, i did not think of the Saxon Merit Order at all, although considering the date of establishment (1815) it would be matching, too. I am quite suspicious about both though, due to the distinctly light blue ribbon of the cross on the picture. Dawe used to be very precise about the details of the decorations he was painting and I think that if he painted the ribbon light blue, it was light blue, indeed. For that reason my other guess was the Hanoverian (and British) Guelphic Order, but I think it should look more golden in appearance and have ball finials.

Still, the Order of the Netherlands Lion does make sense. In 1819, when the portrait was made, there was no reason why the Duke should not be wearing it. But when in 1830 Belgium declared independence and was invaded by Dutch troops the following year, he may have felt uncomfortable continuing to display the order of a country in war with Belgium, ruled by his brother Leopold. He may also have chosen to delete it from the honours he had received, hence it is missing on the official lists. On later portraits the Duke is seen wearing the Belgian Order of Leopold instead.

Do you have any information if the Order Order of the Netherlands Lion has ever been worn on a ribbon in the lighter shade of blue? It would make this hypothesis more likely.

Best,

Lukasz

 

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17 hours ago, Lukasz Gaszewski said:

Do you have any information if the Order Order of the Netherlands Lion has ever been worn on a ribbon in the lighter shade of blue?

The colour of the ribbon of the Order of the Netherlands Lion has not been changed since 1815.

We see the Duke wear the Grandcross of the Order of St. Henry, I don't think it is too much of a stretch to say that the cross we are discussing, is also the Order of St. Henry. The devices between the cross-arms look a bit like crowns. 

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17 hours ago, laurentius said:

The colour of the ribbon of the Order of the Netherlands Lion has not been changed since 1815.

We see the Duke wear the Grandcross of the Order of St. Henry, I don't think it is too much of a stretch to say that the cross we are discussing, is also the Order of St. Henry. The devices between the cross-arms look a bit like crowns. 

Why would the Duke wear two St Heinrich crosses, and if it is  indeed a second St. Heirnichsorden, why does it have solid white cross arms and no blue ring around the centermedaillion? It seems to me it must be something else, although I have yet to identify it.

Given the era, something French monarchical perhaps? I agree the center medallion seems to display a standing figure, and for moment considered the order of St. Louis, but don't think that is correct (wrong ribbon-color plus only given to catholics, as I understand it).

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Posted (edited)

With all respect, I have serious doubts if that could be the Order of St. Henry - for at least two reasons: firstly, it looks quite different - the arms are clearly all covered with white enamel, while those of St. Henry were gold with white frames (cf. the cross on the Duke's hip) and the devices between the arms (whatever they can be) are of almost the same height as the arms themselves. Secondly, at that time multiple classes of the same order were never worn together, which seems quite logical. If a patricular class should represent the recipient's position within the order, only the highest class ought to be worn (you cannot be a lieutenant and a colonel at the same time). It was only in the second half of 19th century that some countries allowed wearing all classes of the orders received. So the Duke would not have been wearing more than one class, even if he had happened to have more (which he probably didn't).

I think the Order of the Netherlands Lion would have been a good guess, had not that wretched light blue ribbon. My second guess, the Guelphic Order should be rejected too, as it did not look like that, either. My third guess was the French Order of Military Merit. Ernst would certainly have been eligible (he was Lutheran). The problem is that under king Louis XVIII the order was no longer worn on a blue ribbon but on a red one, just like the Order of St. Louis.

Edited by Lukasz Gaszewski
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  • 2 weeks later...

While I agree with Laurentius' "the painting is [not] detailed enough to establish which order is represented", I don't think it makes much sense to speculate wildly. Some awards mentioned here wouldn't even be awarded to a member of European royalty!

I just checked at Georg Richter's Der Königlich Sächsische Militär-St.-Heinrichs-Orden 1736-1918. Ein Ehrenblatt der Sächsischen Armee from 1964, and could only find Herzog Ernst received the Grand Cross of the thought order on December 29th, 1815, but I don't find it too odd to see an aristocrat wear a knight's cross, instead or sometimes even additionally, to a sash badge and breast star, as some kind of fashion statement. It is another era, I aware of that, but the Great War medal bar of Kaiser Wilhelm II, as show here, was a long array of German states' knight's crosses - which actually represented the Grand Cross grades he had been conferred with!

On German Wikipedia, I found another portrait of Herzog Ernst, with possibly the same cross worn on the bar, and here, I'd say it's somewhat more looking like a Saxon Order of St. Henry:

1784_Ernst_I.jpg

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40 minutes ago, saschaw said:

Saxon Order of St. Henry

If you are referring to the last decoration on the bar I will have to disagree with you. The last cross is in my opinion the Guelphic Order.

Kind regards, Laurentius

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6 hours ago, laurentius said:

If you are referring to the last decoration on the bar I will have to disagree with you. The last cross is in my opinion the Guelphic Order.

Kind regards, Laurentius

And either way, in Sasha’s picture he is not wearing both the GC and a GC Kleinkreuz (avant la lettre, because in Prussia these only started to be worn during WWI, best I know).

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21 hours ago, laurentius said:

If you are referring to the last decoration on the bar I will have to disagree with you. The last cross is in my opinion the Guelphic Order.

Indeed, you're probably right, Laurentius. But maybe this is the answer to the initial question as well? The details of the orders aren't too exact, after all... I do think that's the best guess so far.

:whistle:

14 hours ago, GdC26 said:

(avant la lettre, because in Prussia these only started to be worn during WWI, best I know).

The "Kleine Dekoration" for several Prussian(!) orders was introduced in early 1914, but I was rather referring to early and mid 19th century fashion and special 'rules' for monarchs and aristocrats. Like the Prussian princes wearing lower classes of the Prussian merit orders, and some other dynasties even wearing their merit crosses only. But all that won't help with this portrait, I fear...

Edited by saschaw
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50 minutes ago, saschaw said:

Indeed, you're probably right, Laurentius. But maybe this is the answer to the initial question as well? The details of the orders aren't too exact, after all... I do think that's the best guess so far.

But it isn't. In the first painting we are asked what type of decoration it could be and it's not the Guelphic Order. Sure, the ribbon is blue, one might even say close to the shade of blue which we would see on a Guelphic Order, however, the cross is enameled, which we wouldn't see on a Guelphic Order.

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22 hours ago, saschaw said:

 

On German Wikipedia, I found another portrait of Herzog Ernst, with possibly the same cross worn on the bar, and here, I'd say it's somewhat more looking like a Saxon Order of St. Henry:

1784_Ernst_I.jpg

I would go with Sascha, that the cross on this medal bar is the knights cross of St. Henry from Saxon. Also I would like to remind, that the dukes, kings and so on, always could wear what they liked, even if this was against the official regulations. Who should blame them at those times? 

But to come back to the original question, I wouldn't guess that the cross, which started this discussion is the st Henry, I would more go on the order of the Lions from the Netherlands. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

If you have only the highest classes what should you wear on your medal bar? ... I don't know how common it was (is?) in the UK to wear lower classes. George V did it as one can see in this thread discussed at the moment in the british section:

 

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Dear all,

Here I’m posting a couple of pictures I have taken in the castle Veste in Coburg. The medal bar is of Ernst II Herzog von Sachsen-Coburg-Gotha. I think also the breast stars shown with the PlM should be his, but I’m not sure. There were at least two other displays which I haven’t taken the pictures. Very likely there were also the orders & breast stars of Ernst I . Ernst I didn’t wear the PlM, like Ernst II did, very likely because he participated to all German wars and major political events from 1840ies until 1870 (he got the PlM in 1849).

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ernest_II,_Duke_of_Saxe-Coburg_and_Gotha

Enjoy the pictures.

cordially

C

52E23938-CF7B-4932-9C6A-970EC8E45AD1.jpeg

69E9CC68-F54C-4A0D-816A-010A7F8DC0E1.jpeg

Edited by Claudio
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