Brooch by Fonsèque & Olive in amethyst & diamonds, Paris 1889
Paris was the capital of the world in the 19th century. Theatre, painting, music - there was no genre of art that was not taken to the highest heights here. The art of jewellery is no exception, of course, and even today the names of the great masters from Paris sound like the names of the gods of jewellery history: Falize, Chaumet, Lalique and Fouquet, to name but a few, shaped the history of jewellery and fashion throughout Europe with their works. The bible to this jewelry history is Henri Vever's opus magnum La bijouterie française au XIXe siècle, published in three volumes in Paris in 1908. He describes the history of French jewellery in the 19th century in many hundreds of pages with countless illustrations, and with his work he helped to establish the canon of jewellery history. To find a piece of jewellery that is mentioned and illustrated in this master narrative of French jewellery art is therefore particularly fortunate. But the extraordinary brooch we present here is exactly such a piece! The work of the Maison Fonsèque & Olive shows four red grapes on a branch set with diamonds. Wonderfully naturalistic, the work is forged from gold and silver. The berries are slightly staggered in size and velvety matted. They are by no means glass: they are real amethysts, which have been cut into precious fruits here. The designer and goldsmith of the brooch was no stranger: M. Olive had worked for a long time as a master goldsmith for none other than Lucien Falize, until he opened his own atelier with Fonsèque in 1885. The design of the grape brooch was created in 1889 and the brooch, offered in various versions, was a great fashion in Paris for several years, due to its charm and the exceptional appeal of the berries cut from precious stone. Our example of a red vine is in first class condition and is still a witty and charming piece. We have been able to acquire it in the Rhineland. The illustration of the grape brooch can be found in Henri Vever: La bijouterie française au XIXe siècle (1800-1900), 3 vols., Paris 1906-1908, here vol. 3: Troisième République. 1870-1900, Paris 1908, p. 532. A digitized version of the third volume can also be found here. The Victoria & Albert Museum in London, for example, has a smaller version of the brooch, which can be viewed online.
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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.
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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.