"Style Néo-Grec"

Antique brooch with natural pearls & enamel in gold, France 1860s

In the course of the 19th century we encounter the most diverse fashions. The exploration of the past, a great love of this time, always brought to light new findings about the most diverse epochs of mankind. Findings that were also reflected in the field of art, fashion and - not least - jewellery. In the first half of the 19th century, it was above all the Middle Ages that fascinated people. In jewellery of the Biedermeier period, besides echoes of the forms of the not so long ago Rococo, one often finds Gothic pointed arches or mysterious snakes and dragons. But with every year almost that time advanced, new fashions and designs arose. Finally, in the second half of the century, it was possible to admire in the jewelry store jewelry in the style of the Renaissance, Antiquity and Baroque, lying side by side. A particularly elegant style, which can be found in France and Great Britain, but hardly in Germany, is the style Néo-Grec. This clear classicism was especially in vogue in the years from the middle of the century until about 1870. With the end of the Greek War of Independence, the ancient buildings of Hellas were accessible to Europeans in their entirety for the first time, and the clear, cool style of the ancient Greeks apparently met the contemporary taste of many of the over-rich ornamentation weary Western Europeans. The brooch presented here is convincing in its clear yet powerful formal language. A round discus is decorated with blue on white enamelled meanders, a black and white tooth cut and a central blossom of a pearl and diamonds. We are reminded of the ornaments of classical temples and despite the abundance of decorative forms, the design appears calm. Below the round are pendant chains with more diamonds and pearls attached. These loosen the design a little and reveal its origin in the years shortly after the middle of the 19th century. This is because softly pendulous suspensions were found in all styles of jewellery at this time, whether the piece was designed in the Greek style, the late Biedermeier style or the Rococo style. The brooch bears French hallmarks on the reverse, confirming the fineness of the high karat gold as well as its origin in France. For dating with comparative pieces see also Henri Vever: La bijouterie française au XIXe siècle (1800-1900), 3 vols., Paris 1906-1908, here vol. 2: Second Empire. 1850-1870, Paris 1908, p. 290f., as well as Charlotte Gere/Judy Rudoe: Jewellery in the Age of Queen Victoria, London 2010, p. 426-436, here especially p. 432.

The reign of Napoleon III went down in French history as the Second Empire. From 1852 to 1870, architecture, furniture and decorations were characterized by an exuberant display of splendor and showed the most diverse forms of French historicism. This period also saw the large-scale redevelopment of Paris - under Baron Georges-Eugène Hausmann, the city was renewed by radical street openings, the famous boulevards, which decisively shape the image of Paris to this day. Magnificent buildings were erected, such as the famous Opéra Garnier, whose neo-baroque forms exemplify the taste of the Second Empire. And in the field of jewellery, too, France had once again become the centre of the world.

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You can rely on our years of experience in the trade and our expertise as a professional art historians for reviews of the antique jewellery. As a member of various trader organisations and the British Society of Jewellery Historians, we remain committed to the highest possible degree of accuracy. In our descriptions, we always also indicate any signs of age and defects and never hide them in our photos – this saves you from any unpleasant surprises when your package arrives.

Should you for some reason not be satisfied, please don’t hesitate to contact us so that we can begin to find a solution together. In any case, you can return any article within 30 days and we will refund the full purchase price.


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We want you to be 100% satisfied! That’s why we examine, describe and photograph all our jewellery with the utmost care.

If for any reason you are still not satisfied, contact us and we will find a mutual solution immediately. Regardless, you can return any item within 30 days and we will refund you the full purchase price.

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