During the 19th century, enamelwork was used in all forms of mourning and sentimental jewellery, with black, white and blue the main colours used. In the second half of the century, though, more decorative enamel colours began to be used for jewellery in different areas of Europe. One such area was the Austro-Hungarian Empire which was created in 1867 out of the Austrian Empire and the Kingdom of Hungary. It was to last until 1918. Increasing industrialization saw a growth in a middle class based in the cities. There was a demand for jewellery and jewellers looked back in history for inspiration. One source of inspiration was the Renaissance and one 16th century artist who was particularly influential was Hans Holbein.
Jewellers produced ornate pieces of jewellery in the form of large pendants and crosses covered with enamel, often white enamel decorated with black dots, coloured gemstones and /or paste, and pearls set in gold, silver or silver gilt. The techniques used were champlevé and encrusted enamelling or ‘email en ronde bosse’ meaning in the round, which involved applying enamel to figures and models in high relief.
Some beautiful enamels were also produced in the French town of Bourg-en-Bress in the second half of the century. They were very colourful pieces with vibrant enamel work set with seed pearls, pastes and gold leaf. The cross pictured below is an example of Bressan enamel.
The most influential periods on the revival of enamelling, though, were the Arts and Craft Movement in England which lead into the Art Nouveau period in Europe from the 1880s up to the first world war. Artists like Alexander Fisher and Georgie and Arthur Gaskin created gorgeous rich enamelled pieces (see https://www.vam.ac.uk/articles/arts-and-crafts-enamels). René Lalique produced superb plique-à-jour jewellery. Carl Faberge specialized in ‘En Plein’ enamelling in which the enamel is applied in a smooth layer directly to the surface of the article, and applied transparent enamels over engine-turned metal surfaces (Guilloche enamelling).
During the same period, there was also a concentration of specialist enamel jewellers in Scandinavia. Two well known jewellers from Norway, Marius Hammer and David Andersen, focused on using guilloche and plique-à-jour techniques. Marius Hammer opened his shop in 1871 and David Andersen in 1876.
After WWI, enamel jewellery became less popular although beautiful pieces are still being made by high class jewellers.
that fly is so beautiful. Enamelling is on my list 😉
It’s on mine too.
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