Sunday, February 16, 2014

Mastery of Design: The Georges Bissinger Brooch, 1878

Cameo Pendant-Brooch
Georges Bissinger
French, c. 1870
The Victoria & Albert Museum

A layered agate cameo, set in gold and accentuated by diamonds, this jewel is signed by Georges Bissinger (died before 1921), a gem engraver of German birth. Bissinger was celebrated for his carving which was inspired by French and English Royal portraits and examples of Italian jewels dating to the Sixteenth Century.

Bissinger famously copied one-hundred twelve gems from examples in the Cabinet des Médailles in Paris. These copies, each made in precious materials were identical to the originals in every way. He exhibited the group to great acclaim at the Exposition Universelle in Paris in 1878.

This pendant-brooch is among that lot and is one of the first that Bissinger copied from the set in the Cabinet des Médailles. The cameo portrait depicts a bacchante. It is believed that Bissinger finished the jewel in 1870. Bissinger was known to use only the finest jewels and that passion is evident in this piece with its exquisite rose-colored agate and flawless, brilliant-cut diamonds.

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