18TH

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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.

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