Marie Zimmermann (American, Brooklyn, New York 1879–1972 Punta Gorda, Florida)
Made in New York, New York, United States
Gold, enamel, pearls, green tourmalines and red garnets
17 in. (43.2 cm)
Purchase, Barrie A. and Deedee Wigmore Foundation Gift, 2011
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 706
This beautiful seventeen-inch long necklace is made of enameled gold inset with ten large white pearls, five green tourmalines, and five red garnets. The champlevé enameling, in a palette of green, blue, and red, is applied in a geometric pattern around and behind each of the gemstones. The piece is opened and closed by means of a gold and enameled box clasp concealed behind one of the inset garnets.
This necklace was made by American Arts & Crafts jeweler Marie Zimmermann, whose work was admired and celebrated during her lifetime and continues to attract attention today. Born in Brooklyn in 1879 to an upper middle-class Swiss family, Zimmermann studied at the Arts Students League and refined her skills at the Pratt Institute. She was deeply inspired by the art of the past, often visiting the Metropolitan Museum where she frequented the Greek, Egyptian, and Far Eastern galleries. In 1901 she was invited to join the National Arts Club on Gramercy Park, whose members included such artistic luminaries as William Merritt Chase, Augustus Saint-Gaudens, and Alfred Stieglitz. There she established her studio, and there she remained for the next twenty-five years. Although trained in painting and sculpting, she was primarily a metalworker, who liked to say she made “everything from tiaras to tombstones.” Her work was highly regarded throughout her career, as she diversified from her early work in jewelry into vases, tablewares, candlesticks, architectural elements and stained glass windows. She exhibited widely, and her work was discussed and illustrated in journals such as “The International Studio and House & Garden”. National recognition brought her commissions from wealthy clients, but she also made objects for her family and friends.
Zimmermann’s exposure to the arts of the past clearly informed her own designs. She embraced a variety of historical styles, emulating motifs and techniques as appropriate. In this extraordinary necklace, she has assimilated the Renaissance jeweler’s rich aesthetic of alternating large creamy pearls with rectangular gemstones—in this case green tourmalines and red garnets—set in enameled gold. The overall design may reflect sixteenth-century European sources, but the palette of deep green, blue, and red enamels and the use of stylized lotus blossoms evoke the color and inlay schemes of Egyptian jewelry.
Gift of Marie Zimmermann to her cousin Gerda Debrunner, Switzerland; by descent to her heir; acquired by Zimmermann's great-nephew, John C. Zimmermann III.
Artist: Marie Zimmermann (American, Brooklyn, New York 1879–1972 Punta Gorda, Florida)Date: 1920–28Medium: Gold, black opal, shattuckite, green tourmalines, emeralds, sapphires, rubies, and enamelAccession: 2011.10.2On view in:Gallery 706