Step into the candlelit drawing room for the year is now 1780. Already pressed with bodies attired in the finery of waistcoats and exaggerated-shaped gowns, the eye takes in a sea of patterned brocades, damasks, faille silks, and muted velvets.
Redolent with the wafting of heady pomanders, flower water, musk, and the scent of beeswax while the air appears magically filled with alabaster-hued dust from the powdered perukes.
Taking in the jewels raises the level of visual excitement yet further. Diamonds, Bristol blue glass, pyrites, topaz, and emeralds adorn ears, bodices, fingers, shoes, and breeches.
Utilizing the bow motif, a design prevalent in the era, scrolling foliage of antique 18k yellow gold, and vivid rich green emeralds join forces in the creation of a rare late 18th-century brooch and pendant slide.
Characteristic of the precious metal work in the Iberian Peninsula, this jewel is created in three parts (another design "must have" of the period). Set with one of the earlier gem cuts - are table-cut natural emeralds.
The central cluster of the bow form displays the traditional bezel and “pillow of gems” accented with saw-tooth edges around four of the central elements. The reverse reveals the dual slide bars and brooch fittings.
Lightness, playfulness, grandeur, drama and an appeal to the senses encompass a great deal of the decorative and architectural arts until later in the century.
Formerly removable and now soldered closed, the two bottom drops were originally designed to function separately or together.
The reverse reveals the dual slide bars and brooch fittings.
For similar work please refer to “Five Centuries of Jewellery - National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon” and page 51 of “Jewels and Jewellery” by Claire Phillips.
References Works: A favored book to immerse yourself in some of the grandeur of the 18th and early 19th century is, "Five Centuries of Jewellery" by Leonor D'Orey.
While it isn't easy to find, and its price and risen over the years, it is a valuable resource and features an array of jewellery from the Museum of Ancient Art in Lisbon, Portugal.
Interesting Note: We have the convents of Spain and Portugal to thank for many of our examples of 17th and 18th century important jewelry. Young women of noble and royal families, who for various reasons were not married by a certain age, were sometimes left under the care of convents.
With them came their families’ donations of lavish jewels. These convents were disbanded in 1834 and jewels worked their way back into the public - saved from some of the vagaries of remounting and re-working, particularly during later wars and strife. Tradition too kept these jewels with families for generations and some still come to light in near-mint condition.
Motifs of Day: One of the more influential and pervasive forms of the century was the bow. Along with the feather, the flower and leaf motifs or the garden, teardrops, and the girandole - the bow can be seen as either the main thrust or an adjunct to the design in numerous jewels of the era.
Sévigné bows, as they were referred to, were so named for a prolific 17th and early 18th century writer, Madame de Sévigné. A great friend of Louis XIV, she wrote prodigious letters, and the wearing of this bow form is credited with her name. And from this - its Iberian descendant, the laca bow shape stems as well.