Manufacturer Marcus and Co. American

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 706

This exquisite brooch is one of the few extant examples of plique-à-jour jewelry made by the New York firm of Marcus & Co., whose reputation at its prime rivaled that of Tiffany & Co. Herman Marcus (1828–99), a German–born and Dresden–trained jeweler, arrived in New York in 1850 and worked for a number of prestigious firms before establishing Marcus & Co. in 1892. Following his death, the company continued under the direction of his two sons, George Elder Marcus and William Marcus.

The brooch is a superb example of Marcus & Co.’s work in plique-à-jour enameling, in which the "cells" of color have no backing, allowing light to shine through the transparent enamel, thereby creating the effect of stained glass.One of the only jewelry firms of its day to succeed at this challenging technique, Marcus & Co. followed the lead of such innovative French designers as René Lalique. The sensitive 3-dimensional sculpting of the sweet pea blossoms and leaves, as well as the naturalistic coloring of the enamels, reflects the Art Nouveau aesthetic that prevailed at the turn of the century. Indeed, close parallels can be drawn with the brilliant naturalistic work of Louis Comfort Tiffany, whose oeuvre is so well represented in the Met’s collection.

Brooch, Marcus and Co. (American, New York, 1892–1942), Plique-à-jour enamel, conch pearl, diamond, platinum and eighteen karat gold, American

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