Design for two bracelets, attributed to Felix Duval

Attributed to Felix Duval French

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Two drawings with designs for bracelets, attributed to the 19th-century French jewelry designer Felix Duval, active during the Second Empire. Duval was recognized as one of the foremost jewelers of his time, and published around 1861 a collection of lithographs with designs for jewelry. His characteristic style made use of geometrical elements such as cubes, spheres, and cylinders in the design of rather heavy jewels, often inspired on modern machinery. These two bracelets reveal such a design aesthetic.

The first bracelet is made up of a golden bangle with a horizontal strip in the center with three vertical strips of square stones: turquoises in the center, and brilliants or diamonds on the sides. This central strip wraps around two golden stirrups that hold a longer strip of gold that goes around the back of the bangle. The second bracelet is made up of a gold bangle with round edges with a cylindrical lock with blue edges hanging from two pieces of metal attached to the bangle with two gold screws.

These two drawings are closely related to two modern scrapbooks with designs for jewelry, also donated by Leon Greenberg, and which contain a variety of jewelry designs from the second half of the 19th century. During the second half of the nineteenth century, the naturalistic compositions of earlier decades had become more complex, and the colors in nature mimicked by the color of gemstones used for jewelry design. In the last years of the century, designs for jewelry had become even more elaborate and relied in the natural beauty of cabochon gems, curving, and figurative designs with symbolic meaning, typical of the Arts and Crafts movement. Towards the end of the nineteenth and through the first decades of the twentieth century, diamond jewelry was re-interpreted to create the new 'garland style', and the Art Nouveau movement created sinuous and organic pieces that moved away from conventional stones and put emphasis on the subtle effects of materials such as glass, horn and enamel.

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