This rectangular brooch is made of yellow gold, set with a large black opal oval cabochon surrounded by an inlaid pattern of shattuckite and blue enamel. A border of faceted tourmalines, emeralds and rubies in individual round, beaded bezels frame the opal, shattuckite and enamel. The reverse of the brooch is enameled in blue, green and orange, with an oval, orange border around the back of the opal and stylized fleur-de-lis at each corner. The hinged gold pin is attached to one short side of the back and a gold c-catch to the other.
This brooch 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.
This brooch is one of the most extraordinary pieces of jewelry created by Zimmermann. In its combination of precious and semiprecious stones, it is highly original. Contemporary arts and crafts designers rarely employed precious stones, choosing humbler materials with which to work. Here, rubies and sapphires, emeralds, and green tourmalines add a refinement and delicacy to the bold black opal, shattuckite and enamel. Fascinating photographs survive of Dr. Connie M. Guion, a pioneering female physician and friend of Zimmermann’s, wearing this brooch.
Bequest from Marie Zimmermann to John C. Zimmermann III. Purchased by Jacqueline Loewe Fowler in November 2010.
Artist: Marie Zimmermann (American, Brooklyn, New York 1879–1972 Punta Gorda, Florida)Date: ca. 1925Medium: Gold, enamel, pearls, green tourmalines and red garnetsAccession: 2011.18On view in:Gallery 706