Tuesday, May 6, 2014

History's Runway: The Ashbee Peacock Pendant and Chain, 1902

Chain and Pendant
Enamel, Gold and Persian Turquoise
Charles Robert Ashbee, 1902
Altered from its original design to include a different chain.
The Victoria & Albert Museum

I think this jewel by the celebrated C.R. Ashbee is quite smashing and lovely.  But, then, I typically like the work of Ashbee.  Charles Robert Ashbee was a multi-talented gent, known for his immense energy.  He served as a defining figure in the Arts and Crafts Movement.

In 1888, Ashbee founded the Guild of Handicraft in the East End of London.  His goal was to resurrect traditional craft skills and offer employment to residents of a deprived area of the city. While Ashbee was trained originally as an architect, he is better known also for his highly innovative furniture, metalwork, silver and jewelry designs.

Like many of this period, one of Ashbee's favorite motifs was the peacock and he is known to have designed about a dozen peacock jewels in the years around 1900. Here, we see one such example of these jewels.  In this instance, the bird is decorated with colorful enamels, and surmounts an uncut turquoise.  The use of unusual, uncut stones was a hallmark of the Arts and Crafts movement.  Three matching Persian turquoises are set in the chain.


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