Sunday, 13 March 2011

Georges FOUQUET: Les trois crabes brooch

One of the finest and purest Art Nouveau examples, the famous "Les Trois Crabes" brooch by George Fouquet. It was made in France around 1900. It was precisely at the turn of the last century when a debate between two styles of jewellery emerged in France; joaillerie and bijouterie. The first term is applied to the mainstream of traditional jewellery houses for whom the most important element in a piece had to be the use of precious metals and important gemstones, these were the established houses like Boucheron, Falize, Vever, Sandoz and the likes. Their clientele was mainly aristocrats, landowners and the then small but growing group of newly enriched ones thanks to the industrial revolution.

Bijouterie was the style embraced by the new artist jewellers who were much more focused on design and felt that the value of a piece was determined by its artistic worth rather than the materials. These jewellers joined the Art Nouveau movement and created some of the most imaginative pieces ever made. The did not normally gave the means to invest in important gemstones so they found a substitute to create the desired colour effect in reviving the Renaissance technique of enamel!. The names are Lalique and Fouquet. Their clients were also different, the use of less expensive gemstones and materials made jewellery affordable to a much broader range of people and the style became the symbol of modernity at the time.