A French Art Nouveau silver cloak clasp with opals by Georges Fouquet. The cape clasp is decorated with 14 bezel-set crystal opal plaques. The clasp is designed as two intertwined peacocks with extravagant whiplash ''feathers''. Inspired by a noted collaboration with the renowned Art Nouveau innovator Alfonse Mucha, this cloak clasp in all its exquisite detail and voluptuous lines perfectly encapsulates the spirit of the period. Its peacock theme was a favorite motif of Fouquet and Mucha. A similar piece is pictured in Alastair Duncan''s, The Paris Salons, 1895-1914: Volume I, Antique Collectors'' Club, Woodbridge, Suffolk, 1994, page 251.
The eminent Belle Epoque dealer and collector Jane Lady Abdy referred this striking 1897 image by Alphonse Mucha as "a secular icon". Inspired as an Art Nouveau update on Michelangelo''s sibyls, the young woman with gems entangled in her swirling hair appeared in five "variants" of the original poster. These variants include examples with four to eight colors, one with raised ink, others bearing French, Greek, Arabic and Spanish lettering, all on a royal purple or lavender ground. According to Rennert and Weil, this is "Variant 3" of the original image. For a second, contrasting version of the advertisement, from 1898, Mucha depicted a young woman with black hair, dressed in a flowing gown printed in fugitive red ink. The posters advertized Jean Bardou''s range of wildly popular pure rice rolling papers, which included exotic flavors such as licorice and vanilla. The brand was christened "JOB" by the public, who blithely misread the JB monogram flanking a stylized diamond, and the name stuck. Perhaps the enduring appeal of Mucha''s early advertising work lies in the way the artist created highly effective brand images within an evocative work of art and imagination conveying the spirit of his contemporary world. Even the sinuous line of silky white smoke is subtly converted to an artistic element providing depth and perspective, while the mysterious woman appears to surge forwa
rd through the frame into the present.Printed by F. Champenois, Paris. Pictured in: "Alphonse Mucha: The Complete Posters and Panel", by Jack Rennert and Alain Weil, G.K. Hall & Co., Publishers, Boston, pages 82-85, cat. 15.Framed: 28.5"H x 24" W
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