Foam gold of the Biedermeier

Antique gold brooch of realism of the years around 1850

In the years around 1850, Germany was in a time of upheaval, the revolution of 1848 had been survived and the founding of the German Empire was still about a generation away. Industrialization was changing society in leaps and bounds, the old cities were growing beyond their walls and the "Gründerzeit", which was to bring great prosperity, began in these years. The present piece of jewellery, a brooch, is a typical example of the goldsmith's art of those years. Gold was expensive, but the demand for eye-catching pieces of jewellery was great, which stimulated the ingenuity of jewellery makers: wafer-thin sheets of gold were beaten over steel models into voluminous shapes and then filled with resin to stabilise them. In this way, precious objects were created that used as little expensive precious metal as possible and still looked impressive. This technique is known today as the "foam gold technique" and the brooch presented here is a prototype of it. Its design is in the form of a naturalistic branch on which rests a large flower. A golden cartouche forms the background. The naturalistic branch, from which a large blossom sprouts, is perhaps surprising as a decorative motif. Yet it was one of the most sought-after motifs of the 1850s! In fact, the at first sight inconspicuous motif is excellently suited for jewellery design. The natural pattern requires a finely grained structuring of the gold, which was fashionable in the middle of the century anyway and allowed the goldsmith to use all his skill. On the other hand, the motif can easily be transferred into the form of any piece of jewellery without appearing implausible or forced. Brooches and rings are as well known as bangles or necklaces. The work is extremely detailed and naturalistic, the individual grain of the wood deeply impressed. The beautiful piece of jewellery is very well preserved. Comparable designs can be found in Brigitte Marquardt: Schmuck. Realismus und Historismus 1850-1895, Munich 1998, p. 262, there esp. cat.-no. 306 and 307. Also Henri Vever: La bijouterie française au XIXe siècle (1800-1900), 3 vols., Paris 1906-1908, shows numerous examples in the first two volumes.

Biedermeier, the era after the Congress of Vienna, with its strong focus on the familiar, the domestic, produced a great variety of jewellery designs. Pieces of jewelry made of foam gold were popular gifts and pledges of interpersonal affection of the time. At a time when gold was very expensive, jewellery made using this now forgotten technique was always made from a sheet of gold and filled with a resin to keep the rather thin gold stable, thus enabling large and impressive pieces of jewellery to be made using as little gold as possible.

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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.