patterns, form symmetrical shapes.
The bright blue of the flowers made me think of a rare type of Chinese jewellery, where the electric-blue feathers of the kingfisher create an amazing effect. Kingfisher feathers were used for centuries by the Chinese to denote status and wealth, using a technique called tian-tsui. Delicately, the fine feathers were glued onto vermeil or silver, resulting in jewels dotted with kingfishers. The effect is similar to cloisonné, with a striking, neverfade array of bright blues. Kingfisher as a high art form came to an end during the Chinese Communist Revolution of 1949.
A great match for this design is the Fleur du Palais brooch, a rare 19th-century kingfisher feather hair ornament, revamped into a one-of-a-kind sapphire and diamond brooch by Lamouche Joaillerie. The jeweller has certainly succeeded in remastering the art form to renovate the antique, turning the ornament into a contemporary jewel with an inspiring narrative.
Middle AGES lithography by f Durin
These plates showcase colourful floral motifs from the Middle Ages, with the sharp lines of the leaf and floral motifs, detailed flowers and a delicate method of colouring. This is a perfect homage to the complexity and beauty of nature.
The botanic motifs and the pop of brightorange detailing could easily have been the inspiration for a pair of late-19th-century French ear pendants, each consisting of three descending carved coral flower heads set in a ornamented gold mount.
lithography by Dufour & Jeanningros
These prints show the swirly motifs of the Baroque and Rococo styles of the late 17th century and the bulk of the 18th century. The full-on floral ornamentation in blue, white, oxblood red and ochre yellow is complex, yet airy and graceful due to the delicate, elegant style of drawing.
I’m reminded of an important jewel that is part of the extensive jewellery collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. This enamelled gold necklace with pendant, set with diamonds and hung with a pearl and a large polished sapphire drop, is a beautiful marriage of 17th- and 19th-century design. The large bow was made in 1660, while the matching chain and pendant was made in the 19th century.
This is a fantastic example of the interest in motifs of the past, and the birth of revival styles in the second half of the 19th century. Bows and floral ornamentations were often used in the swirly decorations and jewellery design of the 17th and 18th centuries. The bow and the links of the necklace are decorated with a light blue and white opaque enamel, the rims emphasised with a delicate black motif of painted dots and stripes, and the bow set with table-cut stones.
THREE down, 97 To go
My love affair with Racinet’s L’ornement Polychrome is far from over. With 97 prints left in the old brown leather folder, I’m looking forward to more creative connections—and to finding as much inspiration as my 19th-century colleagues in this patterned legacy.