A VFG*** Must See*** Exhibit Boston

"Imperishable Beauty", an exhibit of Art Nouveau jewelry opens today, July 23, and runs through November 9, 2008 at Boston's Museum of Fine Art. It's just an hour's ride away from yesterday's exhibit of Cardin in Newport, RI!

This exhibition includes about 120 works by the leading designers and fabricators of late nineteenth- to early twentieth-century Art Nouveau jewelry. Although many of these artists acquired their skills in traditional, high-style jewelry houses, they found inspiration in the work of the Pre-Raphaelites, the philosophy of John Ruskin (1819–1900), the paintings and poetry of the symbolists, and the arts of Japan. For motifs, they looked to the flora (orchids, lilies) and fauna (dragonflies, butterflies) of the natural world and the sensuality of the female form. This new aesthetic was, in large measure, a reaction against nineteenth century historicism, industrialization, and the “tyranny of the diamond,” and these Art Nouveau artists chose to interpret nature rather than imitate it.

René Lalique (1860–1945) was the most renowned Art Nouveau artist, whose one-of-a-kind pieces were often large and made of unusual and inexpensive materials such as horn, enamel, and glass. Art Nouveau designers/jewelers also employed a pastel color palette much like the Impressionists. Color was, for the most part, achieved through the use of enamel, and plique à jour (open to light) enameling added a delicacy and level of technical sophistication not previously seen in jewelry. In addition to works by Lalique, jewelry by Georges Fouquet (1862–1957), Eugène Feuillâtre (1870–1916), and Lucien Gaillard (1861–1933) is shown, as are paintings, sculpture, prints, posters, textiles, and decorative arts from the period.

Above: Georges Fouquet was one of the leading creators of jewelry in both the Art Nouveau and Art Deco styles. In 1896, when he became head of the family’s Parisian jewelry firm, he introduced a new aesthetic characterized by sensuous forms, dramatic imagery, and a vivid, poetic symbolism. He also abandoned the all-white look of high style jewelry, preferring gold, colored enamels, and semi-precious stones over platinum and diamonds. In 1898 he began a fruitful collaboration with the designer Charles Desrosiers, who designed nearly all of the pieces made by the firm between 1898 and 1914. At about the same time he began to employ the master enameller Etienne Tourette, who was known for creating shimmering effects (sometimes by etching the surface of the enamel with acid), and for his enamels with tiny inclusions of gold leaf (paillons).