Nordic Art Nouveau

Fabulous antique pin comb by Marius Hammer with plique-à-jour enamel, Norway circa 1910

In 1905 Norway broke away from the union with its Scandinavian neighbours that had existed since the Middle Ages and became independent. A strong national romantic movement and the return to its own history brought the young nation a cultural flowering. In the field of jewellery production, it was above all the traditional and varied folk costumes, known as "bunader", that influenced the country's goldsmiths. As with the traditional costumes, the new jewellery that emerged was mainly made of silver and often in the technique of filigree. The present unusual hair comb comes from this environment and is a particularly fine example of typical Norwegian jewellery. Moreover, it was made by one of the most important Norwegian goldsmiths of the beginning of the century, Marius Hammer. Hammer, who was born in Bergen in 1847, opened his workshop in 1871 and was in business until 1927. Hammer was a contemporary of Fabergé and is today considered one of the most important Scandinavian goldsmiths. The present hair comb is made of horn, whose warm chestnut tone goes wonderfully with all hair colours. As a showpiece, the hair ornament presents a large decorative element made of silver wires filled with elaborate plique-à-jour enamel. The technique, reminiscent of coloured stained glass windows, shows here intertwined leaf ornaments that form a successful synthesis of Norwegian folk art and Art Nouveau. Jewellery for the hairstyle is very rare to find today. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, however, when ladies' hair was often pinned up in large updos, these jewels were what made a jewellery set complete. The comb from around 1910 is excellently preserved - and is waiting for a lady with long hair to show it off to its full advantage again.

In the elaborate technique of plique-à-jour enamel (French for "letting in daylight") used here, the enamel glass is cast between framing metal bars without a supporting base. The glass thus appears to float in the light, creating an effect similar to the panes of church windows. This difficult-to-make technique was developed as early as the 6th century in the Byzantine Empire and spread to Western Europe in the Middle Ages, but it was especially beloved by the artists of Art Nouveau. Translucent and almost ethereal, they were able to best realize their ideas of form with this form of enamel: The great jewellery designers such as René Lalique and Léopold Gautrait created numerous pieces using this technique.

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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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