Rare and Important Egyptian-Revival Platinum, Diamond and Colored Stone Bracelet, Lacloche Frères, Paris. Estimation 300,000 — 500,000 USD. Photo Sotheby’s
Composed of three main panels, the central panel depicting a sphinx amongst ancient Egyptian symbols, flanked by two panels depicting the Egyptian god Horus, the three panels within buff-top calibré-cut sapphire borders, set throughout with round, old European and single-cut diamonds, further decorated with buff-top calibré-cut emeralds and rubies, length 7¼ inches, signed La Cloche Freres, Paris, numbered 65059; circa 1925.
Ancient Egyptian culture has long been a fascination of Western society to greater and lesser degrees since ancient Greek and Roman times. In 1922, the discovery of King Tutankhamen’s tomb caused another outbreak of Egyptomania that persisted for a decade, influencing all areas of artistic endeavor including painting, sculpture, fashion, filmmaking and literature.
The motifs and patterns associated with Egyptian art such as sphinxes, serpents, ba soul birds, and winged orbs, comprised the jewelers’ repertoire of design elements in the creation of colorful flat panel bracelets. These wider bracelets epitomized the geometric style of the new age, thereby surpassing the former restraints of thinner bracelets set with single-row stones. The latest fashions in womens’ couture had become tunic-shaped sleeveless dresses, which also enabled the jewels to be showcased to greatest advantage.
Although the ba birds represented here are motifs easily identified as Egyptian in origin, what they actually signify is not so readily understood. To the ancients who were firm believers in the afterlife, the soul was represented by these bird-like figures. After death, the birdlike ba was set free to ascend to the sun or to descend to the underworld to be judged by Osiris. Here, the ba bird is sent against a crimson background of polished rubies, suggesting ascension to the sun. At the center of the composition is the sphinx, which alongside the winged scarab, or winged orb, is the undoubtedly the most iconic of all Egyptian motifs. Both merciless and benevolent, the sphinx possessed the ferocious strength of a lioness.
The French firm La Cloche Frères rivalled the work of other jewelry maisons such as Cartier and Van Cleef & Arpels during this period. An outstanding example of their achievements in jewelry design is demonstrated in the bracelet offered here. The combination of beautifully polished, perfectly-matched, calibré-cut colored stones thematically arranged against the contrasting background of white diamonds is a highly successful attempt at integrating pictorial versus abstract elements.
Sotheby’s. Magnificent Jewels. New York | 09 déc. 2014, 10:00 AM