A masterpiece of French artistry, this gold and enamel pendant is the work of one of the great jewelry artists of the mid to later 19th century. Held in the highest esteem, Eugene Fontenay was to France what Castellani and Giuliano were to Italy.
His work was commissioned by an astounding array of royals including the Queen of Portugal, the King of Siam and the Shah of Persia as well as designing a diadem (hair ornament) for the 1855 Exposition Universelle.
This two-part pendant locket of 18k yellow gold contains a central section that displays a miniature portrait or tableau of enamel of matte finish (one of the trademarks of Fontenay). His enamels call forth the imagery of classical antiquity often using a color palette inspired from frescoes and mosaics of ancient Greece and Rome.
A woman attired in a gown of diaphanous fabric is seated opposite a standing child, putti or cupid. The child holds his arms out acting as a rest for a skein of yarn. The woman wraps the yarn into a ball for later use. Soft inky midnight blue black with flecks of gold serve as a background, the ground contains flora and is rendered in golden yellows. In fact, minute specs of gold are dotted throughout the enamel.
An astounding masterwork of gold granulation and wirework. The 18k yellow precious metal is breathtaking in its detail and scope. A graduated oval bale is entirely encrusted with more gold wire touches and beads.
The locket itself is created in a round form with bulbous curving cap. Every tiny millimeter is also covered in meticulous gold work. In fact, no one today is capable of this level or artistry or precision.
The reverse’s center is a minute flower surrounded by a continuous spirals of wire work. On the curving cap, wire work arches serve as additional decorative elements. All elements incorporate classical architectural forms, immaculately detailed granulation and twisted surface embellishments.
The locket interior is hand engraved with the names, both John Thomas Williams, Sept. 10th, 1860 and John Earl Williams, Sept. 20th, 1877. Inside the locket is a spiral of hair atop mother of pearl.
Sometimes one can own and even wear a museum worthy jewel.