Artwork Nouveau treasure by Philippe Wolfers coming to America

Philippe Wolfers holding a JewelOne of many best impartial craftsmen working within the French fashion of Artwork Nouveau jewellery on the flip of the twentieth century was really Belgian. A wide ranging instance of Wolfers’ “ex distinctive” jewels is coming to America, to affix the everlasting assortment of the Virginia Museum of Wonderful Arts.

Phillipe Wolfers (1858-1929) was born right into a household enterprise based in 1812, with an atelier that produced jewels for a number of European royal courts.

Whereas studying the commerce, Phillipe Wolfers studied artwork on the Académie Royale des Beaux-Arts in Brussels. In 1873, he visited the world truthful in Vienna and was struck by the Japanese ornamental arts on show. This led him, because it did so many others, to the Artwork Nouveau motion.

Wolfers dove in with a ardour. In 1889, he arrange an Artwork Nouveau-style villa in La Hulpe and, a number of years later, opened his personal workshop within the Sq. Marie Louise with a staff of craftsmen.

It was a small operation in comparison with his extra well-known Parisian colleague, René Lalique, who had 30 males working in his atelier by 1890. Like Lalique, Wolfers employed expert craftsmen to comprehend his designs, and produced superb issues with plique-à-jour enameling and carved semi-precious stone. He even appeared a bit like Lalique.

“Glycines” (“Wisteria”) canine collar by Philippe Wolfers, 1902, with plique à jour enamel, carved tourmalines and opals, rubies, garnets and Baroque pearls at Christie’s Geneva, Might 18, 2016

Wolfers’ jewels are uncommon, and notable for his or her finely sculpted stone and ivory. Of the 152 Artwork Nouveau works he produced – together with vases, followers, lamps, and sculptures – 109 have been jewels from a collection made between 1897 and 1905. They’re marked “ex [exemplaire] distinctive” to tell apart them from jewellery made by his household’s agency.

A lovely instance often known as the “Glycines” choker, designed by Wolfers in 1900 and made in 1902, is coming to America. The Virginia Museum of Wonderful Artwork simply purchased it from the Belgian-based jeweler Epoque Wonderful Jewels.

I posted about this piece in 2016 simply earlier than it bought at Christie’s Geneva for $277,000, about 4 occasions what was anticipated. It’s at all times good to see a bidding struggle over one thing aside from huge diamonds.

On this case, the ethereal fantastic thing about plique à jour leaves, that delicate and translucent fashion of enameling Artwork Nouveau jewelers made well-known, completely built-in with blossoms carved from opals and watermelon tourmalines, two of Wolfers’ favourite gems. His wisteria vines curl round a gold body studded with garnets and rubies shaped in that acquainted Artwork Nouveau-style whiplash.

Philippe Wolfers' "Glycine" collar, 1900

A brooch Wolfers designed across the identical time bought at Sotheby’s for $51,000, with plique à jour, rubies and diamonds within the form of an insect. Whereas clearly influenced by Lalique and depicting comparable themes, Wolfers seemed to be following his personal muse. Wolfers’ moth was stiff and symmetrical in comparison with the lifelike bugs Lalique was recognized for. So stylized, it’s nearly summary.

Philippe Wolfers brooch, c. 1900
Brooch of enamel, ruby and diamond in gold, 1900, by Philippe Wolfers bought for $51,007 at Sotheby’s Geneva in Might 2015 (courtesy Sotheby’s)
An art nouveau enamel, peridot and diamond brooch/pendant with opal drop, by Philippe Wolfers, circa 1902 , sold for $34,596 at Bonhams, London, in 2012
Brooch/pendant of enamel, peridot, diamond, and opal drop by Philippe Wolfers, c. 1902, bought for $34,596 at Bonhams, London, in 2012 (courtesy Bonhams)

Because the wisteria choker and this brooch/pendant (above) reveals, he might summon the fluid types  that typified Artwork Nouveau however most well-liked symmetry. Like different jewelers of this motion, Wolfers was affected by the rebellious spirit of the Belle Epoque. All have been difficult conference and redefining wonderful jewellery, changing faceted gems with carved stone and glass, standard goldsmithing with Japanese-style metalwork and enameling. Impressed by Japanese craftsmanship, their jewellery celebrated exoticism and experimentation.

Wolfers, particularly, helped popularize the usage of carved ivory in jewellery, and a number of other of his items characteristic carved opal as nicely. Whereas he labored with comparable imagery – winged goddesses, snakes and bugs – his interpretations have been heavier than Lalique’s and infrequently unsettling: scowling Medusas and earthy nudes, nothing just like the ethereal French variations.

Medusa pendant by Philippe Medusa, c. 1898
Medusa pendant of carved ivory with opal eyes and pearl by Philippe Medusa, 1898

Wolfers pendant

"Winged Orchid" pendant by Philippe Wolfers, c. 1902 (Hessisches Landesmuseum, Darmstadt, Germany)
“Winged Orchid” pendant by Philippe Wolfers, c. 1902 (Hessisches Landesmuseum, Darmstadt, Germany)
Philippe Wolfers pendant2
Necklace by Philippe Wolfers of enamel, pink tourmaline, carved white hardstone and pearl (as soon as a part of Ralph Esmerian’s assortment)

Wolfers nude pendant

Wolfers by no means achieved the celebrity of Lalique, however each contributed to that fascinating chapter of bijou design we all know as Artwork Nouveau. As soon as that chapter ended, each males deserted jewellery altogether. Lalique went on to artwork glass, and in 1908, Wolfers turned his consideration to sculpture.

Wolfer’s “Glycines” choker is a treasure of Artwork Nouveau jewellery. I’m at all times completely satisfied when one thing like that finally ends up at a museum, so the general public can see what an incredible artwork kind jewellery will be. And I don’t even have to go to Europe to see this one.

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