Category Archives: Famous Goldsmiths & Designers

Antoine Beaudouin’s Silver Art Nouveau Pendant: Modesty


Modesty Antoine Beaudouin

The ‘tête de femme’ was a popular motif in France around 1900. These ladies – combined with flowers – often symbolised themes, such as Sleep, Dream, or Desire. This dreamy example is one of the prettiest Art Nouveau girls’ heads. The large silver and ruby pendant is called Modesty and is signed: Beaudouin, Paris (Antoine Beaudouin). The lady in this pendant has downcast eyes and is surrounded by violets (Viola Odorata); the stylized hair framing her face also determines the contours of the pendant. Violets stand for modesty as well as romantic love.

Other versions of the same design are known. For instance, a lovely gold brooch with an enamelled face and diamonds instead of cabochon cut rubies is in the Schmuckmuseum in Pforzheim (inv. no. KV 1404). It bears the maker’s marks of both Antoine Beaudouin (AB around a shield) and Georges Le Saché (LS around a thread). Le Saché was one of the most famous goldsmiths active around 1900, and also worked for Lucien Falize.

That the gold Phorzheim Modesty bears more than one maker’s mark is exceptional and suggests that Le Saché did not execute this brooch alone. Beaudouin not only must have designed Modesty, but also have had a hand in its execution. The silver Modesty pendant is one of Beaudouin’s few fully signed jewels. It has no maker’s mark, so we do not know whether Beaudouin crafted it, or if Le Saché made it for him.

Literature: Martijn Akkerman, ‘De “Modestie” broche, een belangrijk juweel van de Parijse Art Nouveau goudsmid-juwelier Antoine Beaudouin’, in: Antiek, 4, November 1986, pp. 210-215.





Large Girandoles

T i m o t h y  H o r n  mirrored blown glass, nickel-plated bronze

A Girandole (French, from the Italian girandola) is an ornamental branched candlestick composed of several lights. Girandoles came into use about the second half of the 17th century, and were made and used in pairs. A girandole has always been a luxurious lighting device, and in the 18th century, the period of great French decoration, the famous carvers designed some beautiful examples from gold, gilded silver or bronze or wood.

In jewelry, a girandole is a design, mostly earrings, in which three dangling pear-shaped ornaments are suspended from a central motif, often a bow. Girandole earrings were very popular in the 17th and 18th century, but even now still are.

Princess Isabella of Parma (daughter of Philip of Spain, Duke of Parma) wears the most magnificent 18th century diamond girandole earrings on this painting, which was done soon after her marriage to Joseph II in 1760, by Anton Raphael Mengs.

Revivals exist of all times, like this english 1790 harlequin girandole gold brooch set with foiled gems; two amethysts, three chrysolites, a topaz and a garnet or these two colored coral and gold Van Cleef & Arpels girandole ear clips from the 1970s.

This lovely pair of silver and paste is brand new.

Sheer Elegance in a Girandole Earring

This is more stylized example; a pair of diamond and platinum girandole earrings set with brilliant and baguette cut diamonds from the 1950s.

diamond and platinum earrings

A pair of 19th century garnet and gold girandole earrings form the South of France.

grenat de Perpignan earrings

A pair of girandole  earrings with five oval shaped coque de perle, a pearl-like stone that is cut from the Indian nautilus shell and is similar to a blister pearl.

Girandole style earrings with five oval shaped coque de perle, a pearl-like stone that is cut from the Indian nautilus shell and is similar to a blister pearl. (via Museum of Fine Arts, Boston)

Timothy Horn makes the ultimate girandoles, even though you cannot wear them in your ears….. They refer back to their original decorative functions.

T i m o t h y  H o r n  mirrored blown glass, nickel-plated bronze

Horn’s exhibition in the Young Museum in San Francisco showed Sweet Thing (2008), a bronze and nickel tree-like girandole sculpture with large pearls made of mirrored blown glass elements. Except for the fact that it measures 50 x 36 inches, Sweet Thing closely resembles a blown up 18th century girandole drop earring. As you can see, Horn is interested in the intersection between beauty and grotesque, perfection versus vulgarity and his work always has a strong connection to the decorative arts. Grand!

Titania (2009)

T i m o t h y  H o r n  mirrored blown glass, nickel-plated bronze, cast lead crystal

T i m o t h y  H o r n  mirrored blown glass, nickel-plated bronze, cast lead crystal

Titania II (2011)

T i m o t h y  H o r n  mirrored blown glass, nickel-plated bronze

Petit Chou (2009)

T i m o t h y  H o r n  mirrored blown glass, nickel-plated bronze

These huge cast lead crystal, bronze, nickel plate Girandoles l and ll (Rain of Hot Stones) (1998) are so lovely even though Horn tried to change materials and reduce associated preciousness; Horn plays with the beautiful.

Good Dutch Art Nouveau Jewellery Is Hard To Find

Bert Nienhuis locket

Bert Nienhuis‘ designs are regarded as the most distinctive jewels of the Dutch equivalent of the international Art Nouveau movement; De Nieuwe Kunst, the movement that drastically ended the 19th century; historical styles and ecclecticism made way for natural forms and structures; flowers, plants and curved lines. Designs were harmonized with the natural environment.

Compared to the exhuberant international movement with its abundance of naturalistic flower, plant and animal motifs and decorative interplay of lines, the Dutch Art Nouveau variant was much more rational and restrained, in jewellery as well as in other applied arts and Architecture. Principles were the logical functional laws of construction and the individual qualities of each material used. Ornaments were only of secondary importance, often geometric and stilised.

Dutch Art Nouveau jewellery is rare.  This is one of these rare jewels; an 18 carat gold Dutch Art Nouveau locket pendant with 17 small rubies (16 x 0.01 en 1 x 0.04, app. 0.2 carats in total) and stilised green champleve enamel leaves, in the chain and the lock are little round plaques each decorated with four tiny dots of green enamel, designed by Bert Nienhuis and executed by Louis van Kooten, circa 1905-1911, Netherlands.

weight: 18.3 grams
diameter: 2.8 cm.

Bert Nienhuis attended the Amsterdam National School for Applied Arts until 1895 after which he was appointed as director of the earthenware factories “De Distel” and later “De Lotus”. Nienhuis also worked independently as ceramist. Only a short period he designed jewellery, from 1905 until 1911. He made approximately 27 different jewellery designs.

Characters of Nienhuis work are geometrical or organical ornamentation decorated with mat uni-colored enamels. He used gold and silver with modest use of gemstones. All the jewels were executed by L.W. van Kooten who worked for the Amsterdam jewellers, Hoeker & Sons, who showed a few of Nienhuis jewels in the International Exhibition in Brussels in 1910 where they won a gold and silver medal.

An identical locket is in the Hessisches Landesmuseum in Darmstadt which they bought in 1963 as a part of the collection of the Amsterdam jeweller, K.A. Citroen.

Literature: Jewellery 1820-1920, by R.J. Baarsen and G. van Berge, Rijksmuseum Amsterdam 1990, pages 72-79, Van Cooten, Kroniek van een Ambachtelijk Geslacht, by Louk van Kooten, Enschede 1994, pages 79-96, cat. 61.4100/E on page 92, Kunsthandewerk um 1900 by Gerhardt Bot, Darmstadt 1965, page 128, cat. 148.

Doris Duke’s pierrot by Van Cleef & Arpels

This charming Pierrot brooch has a nice provenance, it comes  from Doris Duke’s personal jewelry collection.

It was made for Van Cleef & Arpels designed and patented by Maurice Duvalet in 1949. Duvalet worked both for Van Cleef & Arpels and John Rubel & Co. and was most famous for his ballerina brooches that he designed for both companies.

One of the masterpieces at the Rare Jewels and Objets d’Art: A Superb Collection at Christies NY in 2009 was the diamond ruby and emerald “ballerina” brooch. Several ballerina brooches had been designed in the late thirties by Maurice Duvalet for the New York branch of Van Cleef & Arpels. This particular brooch depicts Maria Camargo, a Spanish star ballet dancer from the 18th century, posed in arabesque. The use of emeralds and rubies resulted in a brilliant rendering of the flowers set on her costume as pictured by a French painting from Nicolas Lancret. Maurice Duvalet designed this particular piece in 1942 and used mainly rose-cut diamonds which are reputed to have originated from the Spanish Crown Jewels. This piece was manufactured by John Rubel & Co, the usual manufacturer for Van Cleef & Arpels New York. Estimated by Christie’s at $80,000 to $120,000, the brooch reached $350,000 (before commission). Also the Arpels had close ties with the ballet and were influenced by the great dancers and choreographers of the day. They even approached George Balanchine to produce a ballet entitled ‘Jewels’ where various countries were represented by different precious stones.

Duvalet’s,  more modest Pierrot, is in the same style. It is made from 18 carat gold, weighing 9.8 grams.  The brooch has graduated cultured pearl arms and legs that move, and a cabochon ruby head.  It measures approximately 2 inches tall, and is signed and numbered: Van Cleef & Arpels, 15838.

This pierrot brooch was originally owned by the tobacco heiress, Doris Duke  (1912 – 1993).  All Ms. Duke’s jewellery was sold by Christie’s auction house in 2004.  Per Doris Duke’s instructions in her will, all of her jewelry was temporarily on display at her home, Rough Point, in Newport, Rhode Island prior to the auction.  Her jewelry collection was overwhelming.  Duke’s 399 piece jewelry collection was catalogued in Gems From the East and the West, The Doris Duke  Jewelry Collection, by Janet Zapata, Ulysses Dietz and Zette Emmons in 2003. Page 102 of the catalogue shows our Pierrot brooch.

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Sex and the City 2: more, more, more…

Van Cleef & Arpels and Otazu jewellery on the big screen

Sex and the City 2 follows the ever famous Carrie, Miranda, Charlotte & Samantha as they this time jet off to Abu Dhabi. And guess what happened: while filming they had to flee to Morocco, since sheikh bin Zayed did not allow any further shooting of the scarcely dressed foursome. Scarcely dressed, though covered with interesting jewelry.

This fashion movie is definitely for fans. No gripping storyline, but fashion, product placement, vintage, new designer jewellery and: more fashion. For this movie SATC stylist Patricia Field choose to work together with the famous Argentinean jewelry designer Rodrigo Otazu. Otazu, who happens to be our former neighbour in Amsterdam is now a New York City based. He especially created costume jewelry for the actors. But off course all women of the world now are able to buy these earrings, bracelets and rings to experience their own 15 minutes of Sex and the City fame.

Exposure in Sex and the City 2 will do Otazu good, because we are convinced that he will be better understood in the US: the country that loves big and over the top, than he will ever be in Holland. Though for SATC2 Otazu created some great funky colorful costume jewellery that we would like to see on Dutch versions of Carrie & Samantha!

Polished and naïve Charlotte wears iconic vintage jewellery designed by Van Cleef & Arpels. Her Alhambra necklace is made of 18 carat white gold and mother of pearl. The Fleurette earrings are created with diamonds in 18 carat white gold.

The movie is interesting from the jewellery point of view.  Detailed style finishes off personality. We like the colors and styles shown in the movie. And as you see, every character in Sex and the City 2 is again accurately represented by the right jewellery. Like in real life we hope.

Make jewellery not war!

Bullet rings

Adi Zaffran Weisler (4th year student at Bezalel academy of art and design in Jerusalem) made rings from used bullets shells that he found at a firing range in Tel Aviv by putting the bullets on a simple copper shank. Zaffran tries to find beauty in the scary reality of shootings and war.

The Gun Reclamation Project

The Gun Reclamation Project inspired Ken Leung and Dana Chin of B-Side Jewelry to make jewels from parts of firearms (triggers, firing pins, recoil lugs) recast as symbols of nonviolence: “We believe that art in all forms can tell a story. Sculpture and in particular jewelry have long been vessels of showcasing wealth and social standing, our vision is to create work that is a vessel for a deeper form of expression. Our pieces and subject matters are intended to connect with viewers on an emotional level as well as an aesthetic one. We strive to tell a story of beauty with a message – conscious sculpture“. A portion of the proceeds from each sale help fund the New York City Gun Buy-Back Program. The jewels are made from parts of these returned guns. Does it get any better? Although pretty abstract, you have to be cool to wear broken guns like this.

Ted Noten’s Superbitch bag
The Superbitch Bag; a gun casted in acrylic with a snake skin handle by Ted Noten, The Netherlands’ greatest jewellery designer. Violence is never pretty, however this bag is beautiful and very safe.

Jean Deprès’ engine ring
Jean Deprès (1889–1980) made a lot of mechanical jewellery such as this silver ring from 1933. Deprès was one of the pioneers in Art Déco jewellery. Together with Jean Fouquet, Gérard Sandoz and Raymond Templier, his roots lie in the Haute Joaillerie, because his father had a jewellery shop, but they were all part of the aesthetic revolution in the twenties. During the First World War Deprès designed military airplane engines, which inspired his work and aesthetic a great deal. He became fascinated by the mechanical world and used the engine parts and gear in his designs; rods, nuts, outlines of crankshafts, the look and form of metal.  Machinery was transformed into beautiful industrial jewellery. It’s all about aesthetics.

Een Schotse Arts and Crafts hanger door James Cromar Watt

‘Arts and Crafts Movement’

De sieraden van de Schotse James Cromar Watt hebben een individuele en daardoor herkenbare stijl. Zijn werk sluit aan bij dat van zijn Franse collega’s en onderscheidt zich daardoor van de kunstenaars van de ‘Arts and Crafts Movement’ .

De hier getoonde hanger is daar een duidelijk voorbeeld van. De hanger die James Cromar Watt rond 1900 ontwierp is een van de zeldzame voorbeelden van de Schotse art nouveau die, net als dezelfde stijl in Engeland, werd aangeduid met ‘Arts and Crafts Movement’.

Het bestaat uit twee pendants, versierd met gestileerde draken van goud, met opaliserend blauw en groen email cloisonné en gouden en zilveren ‘paillons’. De pendants zijn verfraaid met vijf onregelmatig gevormde zwarte opalen, alles in 15 karaat goud gezet. Aan de achterzijde draagt de hanger het signatuur van James Cromar Watt: een verweven JCW.

James Cromar Watt

Medaille van verdienste James Cromar Watt, door zijn familie ‘Jimmy’ genoemd, werd in 1862 in Aberdeen geboren. Zijn vader was klerk op een advocatenkantoor, zijn moeder stamde uit een klokken- en horlogemakersfamilie. Na drie jaar grammarschool ging hij in de leer bij het Aberdeense architectenbureau W. and J. Smith, waar hij o.a. in 1884 een serie bijzonder fraaie, zeer gedetailleerde maattekeningen uitvoerde van Schotse religieuze gebouwen zoals King’s College Chapel en de Aberdeen University, met al hun gebeeldhouwde versieringen. Deze precisie-uitvoeringen van ornamentiek zouden hem later zeer van pas komen bij het ontwerpen van zijn juwelen. Voor zijn oeuvre van Schotse architectuurtekeningen kreeg hij de medaille van verdienste, hem uitgereikt door het Royal Institute of British Architects.

Vanaf 1886 ging hij buitenlandse reizen maken, alle met zijn vriend voor het leven: R. Douglas Strachan. Eerst naar België en Duitsland, vervolgens naar Italië en Griekenland. En overal maakte hij gedetailleerde architectuurtekeningen. Hij werd hoe langer hoe meer aangetrokken door de toegepaste kunsten, waardoor hij zich, als leerling van de Glasgow School of Art, ging toeleggen op het bewerken van metalen en het toepassen van emails. Ook de kunst van cloisonné (draadwerk in email) en granuleren (bolletjesdecoratie, door onzichtbaar solderen) kreeg hij onder de knie. Inspiratie in de natuur In 1898 creëerde hij religieuze ‘rondels’ en objecten voor de kapel van St. Mary of Pity in de East Parish Church van St. Nicholas in Aberdeen en in 1899 afscheidsgeschenken voor dr. James Cooper, dominee van diezelfde kerk. Dit waren zijn eerste objecten in geëmailleerd zilver. In 1898 vervaardigde hij ook een geëmailleerd portret van zijn moeder, met om de hals een rood geëmailleerde hanger in de vorm van een asymmetrisch hart, een later veel gebruikt thema. Een beroemde emailleur uit die tijd was Alexander Fisher, die wijd en zijd lezingen gaf en het is niet onmogelijk dat Watt die bijgewoond heeft.

Herkenbare stijl

Het is als ontwerper en uitvoerder van juwelen – vooral van hangers en colliers – dat James Cromar Watt zijn bekendheid verwierf. Zijn favoriete vorm was die van het collier: uitgebalanceerd, symmetrisch en traditioneel door de verbindingen van boogkettinkjes, nog volgens het negentiende-eeuwse principe, maar wild en kunstzinnig door de elementaire tussenstukken van symmetrische en asymmetrische, met geslepen edelstenen bezette hangers. Zijn inspiratie vond hij, evenals de Franse art-nouveaukunstenaars, in de natuur. Evenals Georges Fouquet en René Lalique, maar verder als weinig andere kunstenaars, gebruikte James Cromar Watt, als enige ‘eilandbewoner’ ‘paillons’ in het email: kleine deeltjes goud en zilver folie, die het opaliserend email extra uitstraling verlenen. Bovendien paste hij, zoals de Franse art-nouveaukunstenaars, opalen in zijn creaties toe. In 1902 exposeerde hij met Phoebe Traquair in de Schotse inzending op de wereldtentoonstelling in Turijn. In een catalogus voor de Aberdeen Artists Society werden 45 hangers, 13 broches, 11 colliers, ringen en haarsieraden genoemd. Toch is het niet duidelijk waar die zijn gebleven. Er is namelijk maar zeer weinig van het oeuvre van James Cromar Watt op de markt verschenen. Overigens maakte hij schetsboeken vol ontwerpen, die gelukkig wel bewaard zijn gebleven. Krachtige en individuele stijl De hier afgebeelde, fraai uitgevoerde hanger met zijn beroemde opaliserend email met paillons heeft het (zeldzame) niet zo vaak voorkomende thema draken.

schetsboek James Cromar Watt

De sieraden van James Cromar Watt hebben een eigen, herkenbare, krachtige en individuele stijl. Bijzonder is dat hij zich, net zoals de grote Franse meesters, inspireerde op de natuur en zijn creaties uitvoerde in 15 karaat goud (de Fransen in 18 karaat goud). De overige kunstenaars van de Engelse ‘Arts and Crafts Movement’ voelden zich meer thuis bij het gebruik van zilver en lieten zich vaker inspireren door geometrische en Keltische motieven.

Tijdens de Eerste Wereldoorlog verrichtte James Cromar Watt mysterieuze diensten voor de Engelse geheime dienst. Hij stopte toen abrupt met het ontwerpen en vervaardigen van juwelen en pakte zijn oude hobby van het maken van reizen weer op. Ook verzamelde hij, evenals Henri Vever, Japanse en Chinese kunst. Daarnaast legde hij een collectie aan van Venetiaans glas en familieportretten. Veel van die objecten verwierf hij tijdens zijn reizen. Hoe hij al die reizen en kunstobjecten financierde blijft duister. Omdat hij nooit trouwde en dus geen nageslacht had, schonk hij zijn collectie aan de stad Aberdeen.

collier James Cromar Watt