Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Brocade Grenade? - Part VII

Well, I'm most annoyed that I cannot find a photograph to show you a very gaudy piece of jewellery created by Georges Fouquet which was named (according to my notes) 'brocade grenade'; it didn't look like an explosive device but we were told that 'grenade' is actually Spanish for pomegranate. Susan admitted that it wasn't to everyone's taste, but made as it was from varying sizes of rubies closely set together, it couldn't be replicated. Maybe that's just as well. It was rather gaudy.

There is much of Fouquet's work that I could die for: he collaborated with my much loved Mucha.

More of this wonderfulness here.

Carrying on with the grenade/pomegranate theme, I'll venture that the 1920s was an 'explosion' of ideas and colours from other cultures, all with their particular styles of jewellery. The discovery of Tutankhamun's tomb in the early 1920s created almost a mania for all things Egyptian and jewellery made of gold. [For major Downton Abbey fans, you may find it interesting to know that one of the discoverers of this tomb was George Herbert, 5th Earl of Carnarvon; the Carnarvon's own Highclere Castle, where that series is filmed. Oh, and it turns out Lady Carnarvon has a blog!]

In addition to Cartier's cats, VanCleef and Arpels was commissioned to create Egyptian motifs for the Duchess of Windsor. Try as I might, I cannot find an example that ties together that jeweller, that person and that motif.  However, I can show you VanCleef & Arpels Egyptian jewellery; VanCleef and Arpels jewellery for the Duchess of Windsor; can't say I much care for what Google kicks up for the Duchess' Egyptian jewellery. Nevermind, we're still talking about the 1920s and the Prince of Wales didn't meet Wallis until 1931... Re-reading my notes, maybe I've mis-interpreted and the three don't actually overlap, only that VC&A were famous for Egyptian jewellery and they designed for that particular person.

Perhaps it was the growing nationalism in India and the fact that Gandhi took control of the Indian National Congress in 1920; or, more likely, because the Maharajas of India brought jewels to Europe on an unprecedented scale:

Alain Boucheron wrote in his biography of the house of Boucheron, The Master Jewelers: “The flamboyant Maharajah... arrived at Boucheron’s in 1927 accompanied by a retinue of 40 servants all wearing pink turbans, his 20 favourite dancing girls and, most important of all, six caskets filled with 7,571 diamonds, 1,432 emeralds, sapphires, rubies and pearls of incomparable beauty.”

With the fashionable short hair, long earrings, bandanas and bright colours were the jewellery accessories in demand. This brings us to 'tutti fruitti' jewellery, though that term didn't come about until the 1970s.  Feast your eyes on this fruit!

I've made several attempts to read A Passage to India, published in 1924; I confess that I find it rather boring. Maybe my reading list here will help me get through it should I find it again. Alain Boucheron, member of yet another French jewellery family, is mentioned in this article about the wealth of Indian maharajas.  I suspect The Master Jewelers would be a much better read, well, lighter reading anyhow.

I can't even begin to speculate what brought Oriental culture to the attention of the flappers of the interwar period. Nevertheless we were told that Jade Buddhas were immensely popular as well as Indian and Egyptian designs in the 1920s. No wonder, they are really beautiful.

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