Saturday, April 14, 2018

Bijoux Parisiens: A French Jewelry Exhibition

Bijoux Parisiens is an exhibition of French jewelry from the 17th to the 20th centuries. The jewelry is from the Petit Palais, an art museum located in Paris, in the 8th arrondissement.

My sister and I are both jewelry lovers so we decided to attend the exhibition when it came to town. The display included rings, brooches, necklaces, bracelets, diadems, purses, hair combs and fashion illustrations. I could have literally spent hours just staring at each piece, soaking in not only the beauty, but the incredible craftsmanship as well. Here are some of my favorite pieces.

This is a Victory Brooch to celebrate the end of World War II, by Van Cleef and Arpels, from about 1945. It's made from sapphires, diamonds, rubies, gold and platinum. It's absolutely gorgeous! This piece was commissioned by Joseph Becker, a French Resistance fighter, for his wife. The colors are those of the French flag, with the Cross of Lorraine in the middle of the brooch.

Georges Fouquet created this beautiful diadem, circa 1910. It's made from diamonds, aquamarines, gold and enamel. This headband was designed to be worn either around the forehead or on top of the head.

This piece is called Dandelion Brooch with Hairpin, made by Debut and Coulon, from the 1880s. The hairpin is made from a tortoise shell, while the brooch is made from gold, silver, platinum, diamonds and swan feathers. The design of this brooch is amazing. All the stamens of the flower are flexible and the downy feathers of a swan are set alongside the diamonds. (page 94)

Husson designed this Brooch, from the 1880s. It's made from gold, diamonds, emeralds and enamel, measuring 1 5/8 and 1 1/4 inches. Check out the detail that went into the crafting of this piece. A cherub, again carrying a torch,  opens the procession, followed by a tambourine player and flautists. Two floral motifs surround the tableau and enclose it in a Renaissance style frame enhanced with gemstone florets. Floral covered chalices emerge from garlands of diamonds and teardrop emeralds add the finishing touches to this fin de siecle jewel. (page 73)

An unusual piece with a ram's head, by the Maison Mellerio (1875-1880), was probably commissioned for someone privately. In Ram Brooch with Chain- whether apparition from beyond the world we know or the figment of a tormented imagination- the artist captured an otherworldly effect in the carving of the head and the animal's dilated eyes. The more restrained chain is made from alternating gilded pearls with other pearls covered with iridescent beetle wings. The unusual materials, the evanescent color, and the nonconformity of the design all suggest that this extraordinary work was designed to appeal to an eccentric elite with a taste for excess. (page 80)

In 1880, Lucien Falize created this bracelet in the Gothic style. The bracelet was made with diamonds, gold and turquoise. The colors are so vibrant in person, especially the turquoise.

Rene Lalique created this exquisite brooch around 1900. It measures 1 1/4 by 2 inches. Are you ready for this? It's made from an oyster shell! Lalique inlaid the shell with gold, then engraved these two fierce-looking birds, whose beaks meet perfectly over a pearl.

This Nasturtium Comb was also created by Rene Lalique. He designed this comb to reflect the seasons. It's made from an animal horn, silver and enamel. It measures 5 1/2 by 3 5/8 inches.

Of course, I had to buy the exhibition book! It's filled with all the items and illustrations that were on display. It's a total treasure trove! All  italicized descriptions are direct quotes from the book.

Thanks for joining me today!