Tuesday, 7 July 2015

History of Jewellery - Part XVI

Chanel Picture

I thought bib necklaces were a recent innovation, but turns out they were big in the 1950s because of Dior's New Look with its open collars. 

Yet another piece belonging to the Duchess of Windsor.

Dior was fast taking over the fashion world from Chanel, who went into semi-retirement at the Ritz Hotel.  Poor thing, eh?

I expect by now there is no one who doesn't know she had an affair with a Nazi soldier and according to our lecturer was a spy for the Germans with the code name of Westminster. This latter is new information to me, but apparently a book was published a few years ago based on some declassified archival information. I'm aware that a lot of the upper classes in both Europe and America had Nazi sympathies, ranging from simply liking those ideals better than those of communism to thinking Hitler would sweep the world clean and start a new order, putting things 'right'.

Anyhow, Chanel has been dead for over 40 years now. Our jewellery history lecturer mentioned a painting that hung in Chanel's Ritz apartment that had been 'overlooked'.  You probably know all about this already,  but this was news to me. If you missed that news story (back in 2013), the story goes that the inventory the Ritz took of Chanel's apartment when she died did not include this painting that hung on the wall. 

I can't see how it could have been overlooked, it's pretty garish - and it's about 6' tall, but that's the story. It is described as 'rustic, of Byzantine and Renaissance period' and is by Charles Le Brun, a 17th Century French painter. I'm not sure it can technically be referred to as 'lost'; no one knew it ever existed.

How it came to be in Coco Chanel's possession is unknown, but her Nazi connections are suspected to be the potential route, looted either from a museum or from a private home.

I though it was a fascinating story.

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