Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Mastery of Design: The Falize Cloisonné Necklace, 1867

Enamel Necklace
In the Japanese Style
Alexis Falize
France, 1867
The Victoria & Albert Museum

In the 1860’s, Parisian jewelers became enamored of the Japanese style and tried to replicate Asian enamels. Prior to the 1850s, and since the 1820’s, Japanese style was barely recognized in Paris. However, the Japanese Court at the London Exhibition of 1862 and similar displays at the Paris Universal Exhibition of 1867 caused quite a stir amongst the artistic community. Designers of all types were inspired by what they had seen.

This is a great example of the intricate technique of costly cloisonné enamel wherein the precise outlines of the design are the result of the tiny 'cloisons' or cells that hold the enamel and which have to be individually shaped from thin gold strips. The flower and bird motifs that we see in this 1867 example by Alexis Falize (1811-1898) are taken from Japanese prints, although the vibrant shades show the influence of Chinese work. The necklace of cloisonné enamel and gold shows Alexis Falize’s expert eye as well as the skill of Falize’s chief enameller, Antoine Tard. The circlet is made up of ten long panels of enameled gold which are punctuated with gold rosettes. Five circular pendants hang from the lower edge of the piece. 

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