Wednesday, April 6, 2016


Gold, opal, pearl and diamond cloisonne pendant in the form of two peacocks confronting one another, circa 1901 
Collection of the Metropolitan Museum

In honor of Rene Lalique's day of birth (April 6, 1860), The Met posted an image of this double peacock pendant on Instagram

A peacock regarding its own reflection or kissing its twin (because who else would?) is pretty amusing. But the way the enameling reflects the gem-set tail feathers draped around the opal takes your breath away. 

The jewels Lalique exhibited at the Salon de Paris from the late 19th century until he turned his focus exclusively to glassmaking in the early 20th were widely published for the trade in places like Jewelers' Circular—as in the image below, which appeared on the front page of the August 17, 1898 edition—and were also "a sensation" at the 1900 Exposition Universelle in Paris. 

As a journeyman jeweler in the 1880s before setting up his own business in New York, Gustav Manz (1865-1946) worked in Paris, where he likely saw Lalique's pieces at the Salon or at his shop on rue de Quatre-Septembre. One of the items Manz later recalled when his only granddaughter interviewed him about his accomplishments was the bracelet he'd crafted for Lalique's great muse Sarah Bernhardt (unfortunately no date or descriptive details were preserved). 

The peafowl has strutted its stuff through every era but particularly fascinated jewelers of the Art Nouveau and Arts and Crafts period. Manz was no exception. For his take on this flashy creature, check out our earlier post "Birds of a Feather."

A black and white photographic print of an illustration ("Homage") by John Hassall, British watercolorist and advertising artist of the Edwardian period

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