Art Deco Egyptian Revival Enamel Locket Pendant
A mainstay of both antique and modern jewelry has been the influence of ancient designs and their reinterpretation. Whether a result of wars and campaigns or popular culture (film, archaeological finds, museums) jewelry designers manage to find new and refreshing manners in which to cater to the demand of the self adorned and ornamented populace.
For this Art Deco period locket pendant, it was the 1922 discovery of the tomb of the boy king Tutankhamun that sparked the revitalization of the Egyptian Revival style (which had two previous major and one minor replay). Themes such as hieroglyphics, pyramids, lotus and papyrus flowers, scarabs, winged discs, sphinx and obelisks. A number of the geometric forms such as trapezoids, zigzags, stepped designs and starbursts as well as stylized design are direct descendants of the ancient period. The extreme palette contrasts and bold use of color are also a result of that style.
This pendant locket displays Egyptian Revival at its zenith with the incorporation of both plique à jour and champlevé enamel. Plique à jour is quite scarce and one of the more difficult techniques of enameling. Somewhat similar to stain glass which uses no metal backing, this technique has only thin strips of metal separating the colors. A series of articulated geometric shapes are embellished with magnificent iconography. The head of a pharaoh, papyrus and lotus flowers, an ankh and a serpent are among a myriad of elements rendered in rich vivid enamel colors on base metal. The interior of the locket reveals a compartment with rim and glass cover for a photograph or lock of hair.
Measurements: 5-1/4 inches (13.4 cm) in overall length. Locket is 1-1/4 inches (3.3 cm) in length by 1 inch (2.6 cm) in width. Weight of 24.7 grams (15.9 dwt).
Hallmarks: “AAG & Co.” American maker A.A.Green & Co.
Condition: Excellent; one minute chip to locket blue rim enamel; a bit of light wear to metal gilding.
Historical Notes: The initial round of Egyptian Revival themes were prominent after the Napoleonic campaigns from 1798 – 1800. The 1820s through the 1850s saw a resurgence as well as 1870s through the 1880s inspired by the opening of the Suez Canal. Then the 1922 discovery of the tomb of King Tut created waves of Egyptian influence design. Next in line are the 1960s Hollywood films of The Ten Commandments and Cleopatra (with Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton) and the 1970s era world tour of the riches of Tutankhamen.
The jewelry manufacturing firm was established around 1892 by August A. Green at 94 Point Street Providence, R.I. and renamed A. A. Greene & Co. around 1922. located at 213 N. Main ST. Providence. Rhode Island.
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