Aesthetic Movement

Silver set of medallion brooch & earrings, circa 1885

In the last third of the 19th century, British artists increasingly began to reject the traditional values of arts and crafts. On the one hand, this was a matter of not continuing to place materiality in the foreground. Not only precious jewels in gold could be beautiful and determine the value of a piece of jewellery - rather, the aesthetic value of a design was to be valued more highly. As a result, much silver jewelry was created that was not the sole preserve of the noble and wealthy. This attitude of giving beauty a value above all else was called Aestheticism or the Aesthetic Movement. But form and design were also supposed to be original, not resting on the traditional forms that had been repeated for decades. Thus one looked to Japan, whose borders had just been opened to the West in 1868 and whose art was now known to a large audience for the first time. Especially the Japanese woodblock prints of the Edo period fascinated European artists. They were called ukiyo-e, images of the flowing world, and focused on the beautiful, sensuous, yet ephemeral. The clear lines of those prints were unlike anything known in Europe, appearing fresh and modern. These prints may also have been in the mind of the craftsman who engraved the butterflies into the silver - he may even have had one of these with him as a model. It is no coincidence that the delicate, lively lines are reminiscent of similar woodblock prints of the Edo period, such as those by the artist Kubo Shunman (1757-1820, cf. last illustration). The application of the jewellery alone is undeniably Victorian: it is a demi-parure, a set of brooch and earrings, as it belonged in every bourgeois jewellery wardrobe. The brooch is additionally equipped with a medallion compartment on the back. In its original case, the set has preserved superbly. We were able to discover it in London, where it was once made by the goldsmiths Alfred Goad & Sons in the Islington district. The firm occupied the address noted on the inside lid of the case at 29 High Street in 1883-84.

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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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