Jewelers routes

27 June 2018

The historical part of the gallery des Bijoux in the Musée des Arts Décoratifs

The Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris has a collection of over 5,000 necklaces, bracelets, brooches and rings. A thousand of them are presented in two rooms of the gallery des Bijoux. A presentation of the historical part in a video with a commentary by the chief curator, Evelyne Possémé.

 

A journey from the Middle Ages to the present day

The chronological approach provides beginners with a clear history of jewelry, especially French jewelry. It starts with a 16th century boxwood rosary bead and ends with an avant-garde necklace by Marion Delarue:  a lacquered inner tube. Between these two extremes, we discover jewelry that has no equivalent in the world.

 

The 18th century collection

This is one of the few collections in France open to the public. Brooches, devants de corsage and pendants illustrate the century’s exuberant creativity. We find the bow as a motif everywhere – surrounded with leaves, formed of one or more knots or decorated with shells. The fashionable stones then were diamonds, as new deposits had just been discovered in Brazil, and emeralds, brought back from Colombia by the Conquistadors.

 

The 19th century collection

The gallery des Bijoux certainly illustrates the eclecticism of this century, inspired by historicism, Egyptomania and a penchant for Antiquity and the Middle Ages. All the big names are here: Morel, the forerunner to Chaumet, Alphonse Fouquet and François-Désiré Froment-Meurice, who takes up an entire showcase. The gallery des Bijoux also has the finest collection of pieces by Jules Wièse.

 

The Vever and Lalique collections

The Musée des Arts Décoratifs boasts some fifty pieces by the Vever company and one of the world’s finest collections of jewelry by René Lalique (the other is in Lisbon). They all illustrate the Art Nouveau style, with its sinuous, Japanese-style lines, its fantastical representations of women hybridized with dragonflies and flowers and its enamel work. Another inestimable treasure trove consists of pieces made by Lalique for Natalie Clifford Barney, often with bat motifs, symbolizing lesbianism.

 

Jewelry outside France

This typically French overview does not exclude foreign jewelry. In the historical part, three central showcases are dedicated to:

– Chinese jewelry, including a comb with kingfisher feathers.

– Moghol pieces, including an archer’s ring with the seal of Shah Jahan

– A collection of Japanese combs and inro: the only jewelry worn with the traditional kimono.

Most popular articles

Crédit Municipal: discreet but surprisingly powerful

In 2020, a hundred auctions of antique or pre-owned jewelry and watches at the Crédit Municipal in Paris generated over 10.6 million euros. By...

The rings of the Serenissima

Around the year 1000, the Doge is said to have thrown a gold ring into the waters of the lagoon for the first time, pronouncing his words: “We marry you,...

The Pala d'Oro in St. Mark's Basilica with Alberto Nardi

Concealed behind the high altar, this sumptuously refined piece of goldwork was commissioned from Constantinople craftsmen in 916, when the city was the...

The Georges Fouquet store at the Musée Carnavalet

Shored up by the success of his jewelry created by Mucha for the 1900 Universal Exhibition, Fouquet asked the famous Czech artist to design his new store at...

5 reasons to go bargain-hunting at Les Merveilles de Babellou

Les Merveilles de Babellou is not the place for half-measures: extravagance and theatricality are the watchwords. A piece has to make a splash, it has to...

150 years ago, when the Vendôme column fell...

At that time, no jewelers were established in Place Vendôme – except Gabriel Lemonnier, official jeweler to Napoleon III.