Tag Archives: Art Nouveau

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.





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.