Sunday, November 3, 2013

Gifts of Grandeur: The Rudolphi Putti Bracelet, c. 1840-1853

The V&A
Oxidized Silver and Emeralds
Rudolphi, 1840-1853
The Victoria & Albert Museum

Made by Paris’ Rudolphi in 1842, this bracelet of cast and oxidized silver and cabochon emeralds bears a striking resemblance to the description of a bracelet designed by Masson and exhibited by F. J. Rudolphi at the Great Exhibition in London in 1851.

We can’t be sure if this bracelet with its openwork quatrefoil and cast cherubs (putti) is the same exact item displayed at Prince Albert’s 1851 Exhibition. This one, from the V&A, came in a sharkskin Rudolphi case which gives his address as 23 Boulevard des Capucines. The jeweler moved to that address in 1853. If the bracelet was cased when it was new, it cannot therefore have been made earlier than 1853.

It is possible, however, that the bracelet could have been made in the 1840s and cased, or re-cased, after Rudolphi moved to the Boulevard des Capucines. We just can’t be sure. The workmanship of the bracelet, and, especially, its ornament of vines and rococo foam, closely matches Rudolphi’s style of the 1840s. 

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