18 Karat Gold, Plique-à-jour Enamel Pendant-Brooch and Chain, Marcus & Co., Circa 1900
- Marcus & Co.
- 18 karat gold, enamel, pendant-brooch, necklace
American actress Ada Rehan who rose to popularity in the late 19th century and early years of the 20th century, originally owned this Art Nouveau-inspired brooch and necklace by Marcus & Co. Glamorous and stylish, Rehan was undoubtedly drawn to the cascading morning glories, which exemplify the tenants of Naturalism, a movement that was sweeping through Europe and America at the time. In fact, in 1897, the 'First Exhibition of the Arts in Crafts' took place in Rehan's hometown of Boston, and it is possible that the actress might have attended and viewed Marcus & Co.'s 40 pieces on display.
Conceived with meticulous attention to detail, the jewel can be viewed from all sides, just as one would view a cluster of flowers in a garden. To create the naturalistic effect, the firm used plique-à-jour enamelling, a technique perfected by the famous French jeweler René Lalique, and rarely used by jewellers in the United States. The fine metalwork is filled with translucent enamel, resulting in a stained glass effect. Ada Rehan's brooch—which has remained in the same family to which the actress bequeathed it in 1916—is one of the best known examples of these fragile, delicate masterpieces, preserved in its original fitted, signed case. For an in-depth survey on the history of this firm see "The Legacy of Herman Marcus and Marcus and Company, Part I, The early years, 1850-1892", The Magazine Antiques (August 2007) pp. 68-77 and Part II, "The Marcus and Company years, 1892-1941", The Magazine Antiques (September 2007) pp. 84–93.