Set with large and important diamonds and natural pearls, the present corsage ornament, crafted to perfection, is the epitome of early twentieth century opulence. The sheer elegance of its design blends elements of the Belle Epoque style with the new and fresh Art Deco aesthetic that was just beginning to exert its influence. Only an artist keenly aware of emerging fashions in both jewelry and couture could have blended these seemingly disparate elements in such an appealing way. Although the original owner is not known, it was certainly made for a lady of great wealth and prominence.
Women’s fashion changed dramatically in 1910. Greatly influenced by Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes, Paul Poiret, the leading Parisian couturier, banished the bodice in favor new silhouettes that included harem dresses and trousers. So great was his influence that jewelry styles were forced to follow suit. The large garland-style corsage ornaments of the previous decade were now impossible to wear and in their place were more compact and formal designs that harmonized with the current fashion. The present corsage ornament, created around 1910, is very much of its time. In addition to the basically vertical orientation that anticipates the lines of Art Deco fashion, its design is a departure from the more traditional European themes of bows and wreaths in favor of the exotic lotus flower so beloved in the mysterious east.
A brooch of similar design is illustrated in the 1989 edition of Understanding Jewellery by David Bennett and Daniela Mascetti, page 283; additionally, please view Twentieth Century British Jewellery 1900-1980 by Peter Hinks, page 49.
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