A French Mid-20th Century 18 karat gold and platinum brooch with diamonds by Van Cleef & Arpels. The ''Two Feathers'' brooch has 41 round-cut diamonds with an approximate total weight of 2.35 carats, G/H color, VS clarity.This brooch was first introduced in 1954 and has become an iconic piece for Van Cleef & Arpels. Similar pictured in Set in Style The Jewelry of Van Cleef & Arpels, by Sarah D. Coffin, with contributions by Suzy Menkes (and) Ruth Peltason, Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, New York, 2011, page 221 (Similar). The pictured ''Two Feathers'' brooch is made in platinum, Mystery-set sapphires and diamonds,
A French Art Nouveau gilt and patinated bronze portrait of Sarah Bernhardt by Paul François Berthoud. Sarah Bernhardt was the most important dramatic actress of the 19th century. She is portrayed here with a jeweled sash and flowing hair, no doubt a reference to her role as Gismonda in the play by Victorien Sardou. A slightly different portrait sculpture of Bernhardt by Berthoud is in the collection of the Musée d''Orsay.
A French Art Nouveau patinated bronze sculpture by Sarah Bernhardt. This sculpture is known to be a self-portrait with a chimera personification. The Chimera was, according to Greek mythology, a monstrous fire-breathing hybrid creature of Lycia in Asia Minor, composed of the parts of more than one animal. The term chimera has come to describe any mythical or fictional animal with parts taken from various animals, or to describe anything composed of very disparate parts, or perceived as wildly imaginative, implausible, or dazzling. This work has been accessioned into the permanent collections of The Museum of Fine Art Boston, The Virginia Museum of Fine Art and the Princeton Museum. There was also a sculpture given by the artist to King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra, and it remains in the Royal Collection Trust.Among the various gifts of Sarah Bernhardt was her skill at sculpting, which she turned to self- portraiture in this intriguing rebus that reveals the great actress''s personality. She presents her sensitive, intelligent face atop the body of a winged lion, exposing that beneath her theatrical disguises was a creature of strength and courage. On the lion''s shoulders are affixed theater masks, not as one might expect of tragedy and comedy, but both male, both apparently expressing awe and astonishment. Declaring that "All the best parts belong to men", Bernhardt
financed classic productions where she cast herself as hero, with Hamlet and Werther among her most acclaimed roles. An imaginative and dazzling performer, and a pioneer of female social freedom, Bernhardt''s self portrait provides insight into the soul of an artist at the forefront of women''s social transformation.
A French Art Nouveau lithograph, "Hamlet", by Alphonse Mucha. Mucha designed several posters for the actress Sarah Bernhardt. Here she is shown in the role of Hamlet, performed in her theater in Paris in 1899. In the background is an evocation of the night scene in Elsinore Castle and in the banderole below is an image of the dead Ophelia. Signed in the lower left-hand corner. Hamlet was one of several male roles Bernhardt performed. Shakespeare''s play was adapted in French for her by Eugène Morand and Marcel Schwab. Pictured in "Alphonse Mucha: The complete posters and panels", by Jack Rennert and Alain Weill, page 239 (cat. 63).
A French Art Nouveau lithograph by Alphonse Mucha. An exquisite portrait of Sarah Bernhardt in the role of "La Princesse Lointaine" is used here for publicizing "LU" (Lefévre-Utile) biscuits, with a handwritten testimonial by the actress herself: "Je ne trouve rien de meilleur qu''un petit LU; oh si, deux petits LU." (I haven''t found anything better than a little LU--oh yes, two little LU.) "La Princesse Lointaine" was one of Sarah''s great successes, a play written for her by Edmond Rostand based an old medieval tale, shown for the first time in 1895. She played Melisande, daughter of one of the crusader kings from Tripoli who becomes famous far and wide for her beauty. When word of her charm reaches a French knight, Jofroi, he sets out on a long and exhausting journey at the end of which he dies in ecstasy after having accomplished his goal of seeing her and telling her of his love. The Lefèvre-Utile Company also used other artists to produce posters in this series which featured testimonials by prominent personalities; many were also issued as postcards. The heraldic birds on each corner were appropriated from the heraldic casket of Saint Louis (King Louis IX) on view at the Louvre. A detail from the casket figured in Owen Jones''s seminal work, Grammar of Ornament (1856). The great actress Sarah Bernhardt and artist Alphonse Mucha formed an enduring partnership in 1
894, when he was, by pure chance, selected to design a poster for her. The collaboration launched Mucha''s career. The novelty of these posters'' enchanting stylization and dignified tone made them an immediate collector''s items, often stolen from public display. Though firstan artist, Bernhardt was by necessity a capable, indefatigable businesswoman who powered through numerous ups-and-downs and setbacks. She was famous for her boundless generosity, which led to constant indebtedness and a frenzied work schedule. Here, the two artists combined to create an early form of celebrity endorsement, in this case, for the ever-popular LU Petit Buerre biscuits.Pictured in "Alphonse Mucha: The Complete Posters and Panels" by Jack Rennert and Alain Weill, Page 308-309, Plate 86.
A French Art Nouveau lithograph "En l''honneur de Sarah Bernhardt - ses admirateurs et ses amis" by Alphonse Mucha. Stamped "F. Champenois, Paris".This image was originally created to announce an article about the legendary actress which was to appear in the December 15, 1896 issue of the magazine "La Plume". The article was to coincide with a celebratory banquet on November 9, 1896 given by The Divine Sarah''s friends and admirers. Due to editorial problems, the article was delayed until the January 1, 1897 issue, but the image was used by the sponsors of the banquet in a poster honoring Mlle Bernhardt.Pictured in "Alphonse Mucha: The Complete Posters and Panels", by Jack Rennert and Alain Weill," page 112, cat. 21 var. 1.Provenance: Elizabeth Taylor
An important American Arts & Crafts decorated silver box by Elizabeth Ethel Copeland. This rectangular box rests on four compressed bun feet. Decorated on all faces and the slightly raised lid with orange flowers and green leaves in polychrome enamel in octagonal cloisonné plaques amid ornamental designs in silver wire. The lid is hinged. Elizabeth Edith Copeland was a talented enamellist and metalsmith of the Arts & Crafts period. Despite having her artistic ambitions repressed for years, Copeland at the age of 30 managed to juggle her daily duties on her family''s dairy farm with art and design classes in Boston. Back on the farm, she pored over her notes while ironing, remarking drolly that "No doubt the garments suffered." Thankfully, she persisted, attracting the attention of a wealthy patron, Sarah Choate Sears, herself an accomplished photographer and watercolorist who had won prizes at four world expositions. Sears sent Copeland to London for a year to apprentice under the great enamellist Alexander Fisher. Along with the extraordinary Josephine Hartwell Shaw, Copeland earned the prestigious "Medalist" title from the Boston Society of Arts & Crafts. Her metalwork and jewelry have entered the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Art Institute of Chicago, and the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. This silver box shows Copeland at her best, with richly colo
red orange poppies attesting to her deep affinity with the Renaissance enamellists of centuries past.A student of medieval enameling, Copeland believed the ''honest'' hand work and craftsmanship of her unique creations should be celebrated, differentiating her work from the meticulously finished objects of the 19th century. Many of her pieces reflect her appreciation of Limoges enamels from the 12th through 15th centuries. Elizabeth Ethel Copeland was born with her twin sister, Frannie, in North Chelsea (now Revere), MA on August 23, 1866. By the late 1870''s, her family had moved to a farm in Bedford, where they sold a range of products - dairy, eggs, chicken, and fruit - with an estimated value of $1,345.00 in 1879. (2) An image from Google Maps shows the farm house (with later front room addition) at 394 North Road in Bedford. Period maps show a small barn behind where the garage is today. Even though Copeland and her sister moved to Boston, land records indicate they continued to own and rent the farm into the 1920''s. In her 30''s, Copeland started traveling into Boston once a week for art instruction. During a metalworking class, she became friends with Sarah Choate Sears, a philanthropist and leader of the Arts and Crafts movement. Sears became Copeland''s patron and financed her for a year in London to study metalsmithing and enameling. Copeland produced work that was widely acclaimed as some of the finest of her era. Considered one of the best colorists of her time working in the very difficult (not to mention unforgiving) medium of enamel, she sold her works through arts and crafts societies with many of her boxes priced around $100.00 (3). Her work was included in juried Arts and Crafts exhibitions in Boston, Chicago and Detroit; she exhibited at the Saint Louis ''Louisiana Purchase'' Universal Exposition of 1904 (4) and won a bronze metal at the San Francisco Panama-Pacific International Exposition of 1915 (5). In 1916, she was awarded the ''Medalist'' designation by the Boston Society of Arts and Crafts, their highest achievement - and the first enameler so honored (6). Boston directory listings indicate that over her career, Copeland variously called herself a ''metalworker'', ''enameler'' and ''artist''. Indeed, her work includes all these talents. In Boston, she lived in boarding houses, primarily on Brimmer and Newbury Streets. She retired at about the age of 70 in 1936, around the time that Social Security was being introduced. The Arts and Crafts movement, meant to bring ''honest'' handwork back into craftsmanship, coincided with many other important changes in American society. Women started asserting themselves in the workplace, at the craft bench, in sport and in the voting booth. At the same time, American society changed from predominantly rural and agrarian to urban. Copeland''s life was on the vanguard of many of these important changes. Today, her work appears on the market only rarely and is highly sought after by museums and collectors. Many major museums have her work in their collections, including the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York (promised gift); and the Art Institute of Chicago. The following engaging account of her story and workshop is by Hazel Adler in the Century Illustrated Monthly Magazine of 1916: In Boston our first objective point was the workshop of Elizabeth Copeland, enameler. Entering the dim room on the second floor back of an old building, we came upon a tall woman, garbed in an all-inclusive apron, moving with business like precision between two long tables laden with an assortment of tools and broken bits of colored glass and wires. As we approached one table we saw a little silver box the cover and sides of which were being filled with brilliant, translucent enamels of such colorful and imaginative charm that for a moment we almost imagined that we were looking at the opalescent green lights in the depths of the sea or the blue of deep evening or the purple shadows of the moon. One needs to know very little about enamel to feel the spontaneity and beauty of this work, but when one stops to consider that enamel is one of the most difficult means of artistic expression and has deteriorated gradually since its high-water mark in the fifteenth century, we turn to look again at this retiring New England woman whose art rivals some of the glorious achievements of the Renaissance. The story of Miss Copeland''s life is touched with many of the romantic qualities which lie in her work. From the endless duties of a rural household she managed with great effort to escape once a week during four years to come up to Boston to an art school without hope or possibility of ever increasing her vision or powers beyond what this school had to give her. In the fourth year she entered the metal-working class, and there attracted the attention of Mrs. J. M. Sears, a patron of enamels and herself an enameler. Through her sympathetic understanding and beneficence the gate of opportunity was suddenly flung open to the unbelieving girl, and she was sent abroad to study enameling under the greatest teachers the time afforded. Making herself independent of Mrs. Sears''s generosity as soon as possible, although her kindness is still a source of inspiration for every new piece of work, she established herself in the little back room in Boylston Street, and worked away day after day from early morning until evening, evolving new ideas and new possibilities, knowing her existence will never be long enough to achieve them all. Some of her work has found its way into Mrs. Sothern''s [Julia Marlowe Sothern was a famous Shakespearean actor and important patron of the arts & crafts movement, including Arthur Stone''s shop] notable collection of American craftsmanship, and into a few of our most progressive American art museums. (7) Endnotes: 2. ''Schedule 2. - Productions of Agriculture'' in Bedford, 9 & 10 June 1880, Federal Census Non-Population Schedules, from Ancestry.com accessed 23 March 2015. 3. Pricing information is culled from surviving financial records of the Society of Arts and Crafts, Detroit in the Archives of American Art. 4. Official Catalog of Exhibits: Universal Exposition Saint Louis 1904, (St. Louis: Official Catalog Company, 1904), p. 77. 5. Jeannine Falino and Gerald W. R. Ward, eds., "Silver of the Americas, 1600-2000," (Boston: MFA Publications, 2008), p. 337. 6. Karen E. Ulehla, The Society of Arts & Crafts, Boston Exhibition Record 1897-1927, (Boston: Boston Public Library, 1981), p. 59 and Allen H. Eaton, Handicrafts of New England, (New York: Harper Brothers, 1949), p. 285. 7. ''American Craftsmen'' by Hazel H. Adler in The Century Illustrated Monthly Magazine, The Century Co., May - Oct, 1916, pp. 890-892.
An Art Nouveau bronze Viper Box by Alfred Daguet. The box is decorated with enamel and cabochon glass jewels. The snake''s body is also decorated with these glass jewels. Its body coils around the serpent''s head, which is depicted with an open mouth, displaying its forked tongue and fangs. Alfred Louis Achille DAGUET (1875 - 1942) was a metalsmith active in Paris during the first part of the 20th century. His metalwork created prior to the outbreak of World War I, noteworthy for its versatility and virtuosity, is the most sought-after among collectors today. Daguet mined many sources for inspiration be they Egyptian, Celtic, Japanese, Byzantine, Medieval or contemporary. He received formal training under the painters, Gerome and Clairin, both academicians associated with the Ecole des Beaux-Arts who had traveled to Egypt and explored themes of orientalism in their work. Daguet''s studio in Paris was located at 22 rue de Provence, just above Siegfried Bing''s influential L''Art Nouveau boutique. It is this association with Bing that is most significant to Daguet''s metier and what firmly places his work in art historical context. As a promoter and purveyor of Japanese objects, Bing capitalized on the craze for japonisme by expanding his commercial galleries from 1895-1904 to include artist workshops capable of making everything conceivable to create harmonious interior spa
ces. Daguet''s finely-worked repousse copper sheets clad many decorative letter and desk boxes sold at Bing''s shop in the early 1900s. These boxes, which Daguet often further embellished with colored glass, unquestionably reflect the tenets of the Art Nouveau aesthetic. In addition to boasting famous clientele such as Sarah Bernhardt, who followed Daguet to his studio on rue du Faubourg Saint-Jaques following Bing''s death and the closure of his store, l''Art Nouveau, in 1905, Daguet''s work achieved critical success with inclusion in group expositions at the Musée Galliera, Paris, 1905, 1926; Salons of the Société des Artistes Français: 1900, 1903, 1904, 1905, 1909, 1910; and the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts, 1901. Similar boxes by Daguet are pictured in: The Paris Salons 1895-1915, Vol. V: Objects d''Art and Metalware, by Alastair Duncan, Woodbridge, Suffolk: Antique Collectors'' Club, 1999, pp. 202-203.
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