Sunday, 29 April 2012

Phillippe WOLFERS: Art Nouveau "haute joillerie"

This extraordinary Art Nouveau brooch with delicate enamel in an open work gold structure was made by Philippe Wolfers in 1902. It is set with a central emerald cut peridot and a pendant opal drop.

The maker is one of the artist/jewellers that populated the Art Nouveau scene in the beginning of the Twentieth Century. He is more comparable to Vever than to Lalique or Fouquet for he used precious stones. Philippe embraced the artistic trend and designed nature inspired pieces in yellow gold and enamel that broke apart from the "white jewellery" from the Belle Epoque period but he had a strong fine jewellery heritage. He was the son a Louis Wolfers, from Belgium jewellers Wolfers Freres who where appointed Crown jewellers to the Court. As such, Philippe was trained in excellent craftsmanship and the use of the finest stones. In a sense it must have been more difficult for him to join artists and bohemians and move away from the heavily traditional environment that his background was. He was one of the first jewellers to use Ivory and he created the Album Congolas as a commission to King Leopold II.

Between 1898 and 1905, Philippe moved his workshop to a villa in La Hulpe where he focused on studying nature and to create a series on 139 unique pieces that was called "Ex Unique" The brooch above is number 134 of the series and it was called "Huppe". He is much less known that his peers today because of the very small number of jewels that he made, but the collection definitely established him as one of the masters of the Art Nouveau period.

The piece was sold at Bonhams Bond St in London on April 25th
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