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FORMERLY THE PROPERTY OF MADAME GANNA WALSKA, 1887-1984

Ruby cameo pendant, Early 19th century/late 20th century
Estimate
10,00015,000
LOT SOLD. 68,750 GBP
JUMP TO LOT
13

FORMERLY THE PROPERTY OF MADAME GANNA WALSKA, 1887-1984

Ruby cameo pendant, Early 19th century/late 20th century
Estimate
10,00015,000
LOT SOLD. 68,750 GBP
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Fine Jewels

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Ruby cameo pendant, Early 19th century/late 20th century
Set with two carved ruby cameos, the principle cameo carved to depict the profile of a kneeling winged angel, surmounted by a smaller cameo carved to depict a winged dove, emblematic of the Holy Spirit, to a later foil backed collet mount embellished with a single baroque cultured pearl.
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Literature

Cf: Parke-Bernet Galleries, The Important Jewelry Collection of Madame Ganna Walska, Thursday April 1 at 2pm, page 34,  lot 77, for an image of the two cameos when mounted as a necklace by Chaumet. A copy of this catalogue is accompanying this lot.

Cf: Stefano Papi & Aelxandra Rhodes, "Famous Jewelry Collectors", Thames & Hudson, page 177 for an illustration of the above two cameos in the current setting and the Chaumet necklace from the 1940s.

Cf: Stefano Papi & Aelxandra Rhodes, "20th Century Jewelry & The Icons of Style" Thames & Hudson, page 312, for an illustration of the above two cameos in the current setting and a photo of Madame Ganna Walska wearing the cameos from ropes of ruby beads during the late 1930s.

Catalogue Note

Her fourth husband, the millionaire Harold McCormick, was to lavishly promote her operatic career. Although well-known her operatic career was somewhat unsuccessful and was to become the inspiration behind the character Susan Alexander in Orson Well’s Citizen Kane. McCormick is said to have spent thousands of dollars on voice lessons for Walska, even arranging for her to take the lead in a production of Zazà by Ruggero Leoncavallo at the Chicago Opera in 1920. Reportedly,  Walska got into an argument with director Pietro Cimini during dress rehearsal and stormed out of the production before she appeared while contemporaries said Walska had a terrible voice, pleasing only to McCormick. By 1936 the United Press Association stated that she was estimated to have married fortunes totaling $125,000,000 with four millionaires, while spending a twelfth of this fortune pursuing her operatic career.

While pursuing both her career as a great operatic diva Ganna  also began to accumulate a fabulous, exotic and eclectic Jewellery collection, which favored fabulous carved Mughal emeralds mounted by Cartier, however much to the chagrin of Cartier she had a habit of constantly altering and adapting her acquisitions, returning the jewels to Cartier to be altered according to the latest whims of fashion. In 1941 with the encouragement of her sixth husband Theos Bernard, she purchased the historic 37-acre "Cuesta Linda" estate in Montecito near Santa Barbara, California, intending to use it as a retreat for Tibetan monks. Because of restrictions on wartime visas, the monks were unable to come to the United States. Walska divorced from Bernard in 1946 changing the name to Lotusland and devoted the rest of her life to redesigning and maintaining the estate's gardens. In 1971 in her eighties she consigned her Jewellery collection to auction with Parke-Bernet in New York to raise funds to secure the estates future for perpetuity.

Fine Jewels

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