Scarce 18th C. Enamel Festoon Necklace
See this very necklace as a headband on Carey Mulligan in "The Great Gatsby" in Vogue May 2013!
The festoon necklace may be the most feminine of all necklaces. This scarce and fine example circa 1780 is of filigree vermeil (gold over silver) and features eight hand painted enamel plaques placed on two swags and conclude with a plaque as a drop. Each of the oval plaques is detailed with a portrait of a French woman garbed in regional dress. The ladies sport the latest fashions of the day including the period dress which exposed the collar bone, had a neckline adorned with a fichu or lace and was cut low to display décolletage.
Each wears a powdered wig with a number of the ladies coiffed in the “chien couchant” style – with large side curls resting on the shoulders. In addition, please note that each enamel shows a bit of softly draped fabric or a feather inset within the wig. The pendant drop illustrates a lady wearing a bonnet typical of the 1770s and 1780s.
The upper tier hosts five of the portraits separated by filigree butterfly-like medallions connected by a trio of chains. The bottom tier, joined to the top by a later addition cultured pearl drop is decorated with two plaques alternating with three of the lace-like butterflies. The necklace finishes on each end with an open fitting through which a length of ribbon is threaded
Date: Circa 1780.
Measurements: Festoon is 14-3/16 inches (35.5 cm) in length from ribbon fitting to ribbon fitting. Drop is 4-1/2 inches (11.3 cm) from top of center to plaque to bottom of small plaque. Weight of 66.6 grams (42.8 dwt) not including ribbons.
Condition: Excellent for its age. Bottom enamel has one edge chip and a few surface scratches visible upon very close inspection or with magnification; pearl has been replaced.
Origin: Most likely French.
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