One of the greatest independent craftsmen functioning in the French fashion of Artwork Nouveau jewellery at the convert of the 20th century was actually Belgian. A amazing example of Wolfers’ “ex unique” jewels is coming to The us, to be a part of the lasting collection of the Virginia Museum of High-quality Arts.

Phillipe Wolfers (1858-1929) was born into a family business started in 1812, with an atelier that created jewels for various European royal courts.

Whilst mastering the trade, Phillipe Wolfers analyzed art at the Académie Royale des Beaux-Arts in Brussels. In 1873, he visited the environment truthful in Vienna and was struck by the Japanese decorative arts on show. This led him, as it did so lots of many others, to the Art Nouveau movement.

Wolfers dove in with a enthusiasm. In 1889, he established up an Artwork Nouveau-type villa in La Hulpe and, a few many years later, opened his personal workshop in the Sq. Marie Louise with a staff of craftsmen.

It was a tiny procedure as opposed to his extra well known Parisian colleague, René Lalique, who experienced 30 guys performing in his atelier by 1890. Like Lalique, Wolfers employed expert craftsmen to realize his designs, and produced amazing things with plique-à-jour enameling and carved semi-cherished stone. He even appeared a little bit like Lalique.

“Glycines” (“Wisteria”) pet dog collar by Philippe Wolfers, 1902, with plique à jour enamel, carved tourmalines and opals, rubies, garnets and Baroque pearls at Christie’s Geneva, Might 18, 2016

Wolfers’ jewels are unusual, and noteworthy for their finely sculpted stone and ivory. Of the 152 Artwork Nouveau operates he produced – which includes vases, supporters, lamps, and sculptures – 109 were being jewels from a collection manufactured concerning 1897 and 1905. They are marked “ex [exemplaire] unique” to distinguish them from jewellery created by his family’s organization.

A lovely example known as the “Glycines” choker, made by Wolfers in 1900 and created in 1902, is coming to The us. The Virginia Museum of High-quality Art just acquired it from the Belgian-based jeweler Epoque Great Jewels.

I posted about this piece in 2016 just in advance of it sold at Christie’s Geneva for $277,000, about four instances what was predicted. It is normally nice to see a bidding war around something other than significant diamonds.

In this situation, the ethereal natural beauty of plique à jour leaves, that delicate and translucent design and style of enameling Art Nouveau jewelers built well-known, flawlessly integrated with blossoms carved from opals and watermelon tourmalines, two of Wolfers’ most loved gems. His wisteria vines curl all around a gold body studded with garnets and rubies formed in that common Artwork Nouveau-design and style whiplash.

Philippe Wolfers' "Glycine" collar, 1900

A brooch Wolfers designed close to the identical time bought at Sotheby’s for $51,000, with plique à jour, rubies and diamonds in the shape of an insect. When plainly affected by Lalique and depicting equivalent themes, Wolfers appeared to be adhering to his own muse. Wolfers’ moth was stiff and symmetrical in contrast to the lifelike insects Lalique was acknowledged for. So stylized, it is pretty much abstract.

Philippe Wolfers brooch, c. 1900
Brooch of enamel, ruby and diamond in gold, 1900, by Philippe Wolfers marketed for $51,007 at Sotheby’s Geneva in May 2015 (courtesy Sotheby’s)
An art nouveau enamel, peridot and diamond brooch/pendant with opal drop, by Philippe Wolfers, circa 1902 , sold for $34,596 at Bonhams, London, in 2012
Brooch/pendant of enamel, peridot, diamond, and opal drop by Philippe Wolfers, c. 1902, marketed for $34,596 at Bonhams, London, in 2012 (courtesy Bonhams)

As the wisteria choker and this brooch/pendant (higher than) reveals, he could summon the fluid forms  that typified Artwork Nouveau but most well-liked symmetry. Like other jewelers of this movement, Wolfers was afflicted by the rebellious spirit of the Belle Epoque. All ended up tough convention and redefining wonderful jewelry, changing faceted gems with carved stone and glass, conventional goldsmithing with Japanese-design and style metalwork and enameling. Impressed by Japanese craftsmanship, their jewelry celebrated exoticism and experimentation.

Wolfers, in certain, aided popularize the use of carved ivory in jewelry, and several of his items function carved opal as perfectly. Although he labored with very similar imagery – winged goddesses, snakes and bugs – his interpretations were being heavier than Lalique’s and often unsettling: scowling Medusas and earthy nudes, very little like the ethereal French versions.

Medusa pendant by Philippe Medusa, c. 1898
Medusa pendant of carved ivory with opal eyes and pearl by Philippe Medusa, 1898

Wolfers pendant

"Winged Orchid" pendant by Philippe Wolfers, c. 1902 (Hessisches Landesmuseum, Darmstadt, Germany)
“Winged Orchid” pendant by Philippe Wolfers, c. 1902 (Hessisches Landesmuseum, Darmstadt, Germany)
Philippe Wolfers pendant2
Necklace by Philippe Wolfers of enamel, pink tourmaline, carved white hardstone and pearl (when aspect of Ralph Esmerian’s selection)

Wolfers nude pendant

Wolfers never realized the fame of Lalique, but the two contributed to that charming chapter of jewelry layout we know as Artwork Nouveau. As soon as that chapter finished, the two adult males deserted jewellery entirely. Lalique went on to art glass, and in 1908, Wolfers turned his focus to sculpture.

Wolfer’s “Glycines” choker is a treasure of Art Nouveau jewelry. I’m always delighted when anything like that finishes up at a museum, so the community can see what an wonderful artwork type jewellery can be. And I do not even have to pay a visit to Europe to see this one particular.

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