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Arts and crafts enamel brooch but where was it made ?

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    Posted 3 years ago

    (18 items)

    I have just purchased a lot with 7 items of Arts & Crafts enamel pieces. The lot was purchase from the west coast of the UK . All the pieces look to have been all worked by the same hand. All pieces have Celtic designs I believe. Does anyone have any idea please as to where these pieces could have been made ?? Any suggestions would be most gratefully received as I am doing my head in trying to research these. I think they are so interesting, most certainly old , how come there is a whole bunch of them together?????? Questions in my brain going round and round ????

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    1. truthordare truthordare, 3 years ago
      These pieces are fascinating, I love enamel and metal jewelry and accessories, have collected some, but have never seen this type before. I think you are right, they might be older than the Arts & Craft Movement, if that is the case, you may have a hand crafted rare selection of Celt pieces.

      It is worth getting an appraisal from a museum that would have a background with this sort of item. Good Luck and thanks for posting.
    2. Hollyhocks Hollyhocks, 3 years ago
      Thanks truthordare for taking the time to comment on these. I live in Australia so it is quite hard to find a museum that might have any records ect on this type of work. I was planning a trip to the UK this year, to see my Brother, but of course that is not going to happen. When times are better :):):) I will go back and make some enquiries, might start in Scotland. One of the other items in this lot is a penannular brooch, enamelled also. When the pieces arrive to me here I will post images of them, just for interest.
      Again I appreciate your comments , thanks.
    3. Jewels1900 Jewels1900, 3 years ago
      They look typically British Arts & Crafts. Likely they were made by a student and that's why you've got a group of them together. Sometimes you see a group of work that's come out of a defunct workshop or deceased estate, but these have the naive feel of a student to me.
    4. Hollyhocks Hollyhocks, 3 years ago
      Thanks for your opinion ,as always, and confirming my thoughts that they are British. The colours are really quite distinctive. I just haven’t been able to find anything at all that looks similar.Your thoughts about them being a students work could be quite on the mark , although I do feel that the brooch with the Garnets shows quite a degree of skill . It will Be interesting to examine them when they arrive and learn a bit more hopefully , although I don’t know that they are going to reveal their secrets to me. I love them because I find them intriguing and they are making me have a think. Great to have your thoughts on them.
    5. truthordare truthordare, 3 years ago
      I would contact the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, they are quite easy to deal with by internet.
      The symbolism of the pieces and the obvious hand crafted applied wirework and enamel colors, make them older IMO, could be called early Celtic cloisonne or champleve, which is a rare art form. I am a cloisonne collector, mostly Far East.

      I think the brooch is a modified piece, with a more recent hardware pin. You have made a really good find here. I don't see the Arts & Craft identification, as they did not produce cloisonne, as far as I know.

      Here is a link to one V&A Irish piece reproduction in 19th, from an older artifact.
    6. Hollyhocks Hollyhocks, 3 years ago
      Oh thanks so much truthordare . I have added pics of two more of the pieces , not great images because I have enlarged them from an image sent to me. You are absolutely right about the brooch being modified from some sort of buckle. Your link was a tremendous help, thankyou so much. I am going to look through the images today. I must say my husband and I have been scratching our heads over the way these pieces have been enamelled . We actually thought them quite sophisticated, but we are looking with inexperienced eyes at this type of jewellery . I am excited to have purchase them because they felt special, at least to me. I am going to follow up on your suggestions. If you have the time to comment on the other two pieces it would be much appreciated. I feel sure they are by the same hand.
    7. truthordare truthordare, 3 years ago
      Yes I think the 3rd piece is from the same period and craftsman, the 4th is more finely produced with larger wire section, may even be champleve instead of cloisonne, difference is one uses wires applied to a metal base that separates the enamels before being fired in a kiln, the champlever is impressed metal that has cavities created by the motif, and then fired into a kiln.

      When I gave you the link, I also looked at their Celt pieces of enamel and metal, and one seemed very old, oxidized and worn off, still you could see the symbolic shapes and the circles with a design inside, just like your 1st piece.

      Glad I could help, I find this just as fascinating as you do. Makes you want to know the whole story of how they survived this long, and who they belonged too. Best.
    8. Jewels1900 Jewels1900, 3 years ago
      Poor old Ruskin would roll in his grave. From his perspective (and historically) they are very different types of objects, both in terms of beauty and social impact.

      One is mass made in a commercial workshop or factory. It's made using machines and each part of the process would have been undertaken by a different worker. Thousands of this type of brooches, in varying quality, were made and retailed extensively across Britain (with and without enamel and also in other types of materials). The Victorian version of fast fashion.

      The group is amateur, entirely hand made and by a single craftsperson. Only one of each item was made and they weren't finished for retail (which also suggests a student). Possibly this type of work might have been exhibited at a student's school or a local Arts & Crafts society exhibition and if it had been finished it might have been for sale there or a local Arts & Crafts society shop.

      While they share a Celtic influence, they are the opposite to each other. The Arts & Crafts movement arose as a direct reaction to the mass produced, heavily industrialised and soulless (in their opinion) nature of Victorian goods.

      Lots of Arts jewellers & metalsmiths used the cloisonné technique. Henry Wilson, The Guild of Handicraft, the Dawsons, Fred Partridge and Annie McLeish are a few that I can think of. Also some of the commercial firms circa 1900, I'm aware James Fenton used cloisonné enamels to set in jewellery and small silver items like napkin rings.

      I may have an advantage in that I've seen the back of this buckle and it's consistent with other pieces of Arts & Crafts I know. Also, it's not entirely unknown for small groups of unfinished Arts & Crafts work to become available for sale; possibly last year, some groups of unfinished work from Bertha Goth's workshop was sold at auction and a few years before that work and drawings from Bernard Instone's family.

      When it comes to enamel, its ground glass, so is variant like paint. So, apart from the design and the fact that they are grouped together, the distinctive colours of the enamel suggest they were all made together. Some enamelists used a colour palate the same way a painter would and you can identify maker based on colour patterns and combinations in addition to other characteristics of their work (Varley for example, and also Liberty used a distinctive colour palate).
    9. truthordare truthordare, 3 years ago
      My perception of Arts & Crafts is one that changed the approach and aesthetic of the ornate rococo etc. Victorian era. Meaning the beauty of the base materials be it metals, woods, or other were left with simple designs, and the fabrication was often made evident.

      I did not claim that cloisonne or enamel ware on metal was not done at all at the end of the Victorian era, but it is totally contrary in this instance with the A&C approach. Perhaps it is a semantic situation, where the tradition of terminology does not sit well under certain circumstances in different categories of decorative items.

      I know a lot about cloisonne and it's fabrication, the flux made of crushed glass and chemicals to achieve certain colors were minimal in palette, as it was a science as well as a decorative craft, the kiln's high degree of heat would melt the flux and allow the enamel to fill the cavities uniformely.

      These pieces here may be a revival of the old Celt culture ornaments, that is what the V&A museum explains, if you read the link I provided. The quality of cloisonne was not great in the Far East till a German scientist gave Japanese workshops in 1875, it was the same in China, and they produced huge figural cloisonne pieces. The foreigner provided information on how to improve the appearance of the finished enamel product with a glossier and smoother surface, and how to be able to increase the color palette range.

      This is much more detailed than I anticipated, due to feeling I am being misunderstood about cloisonne articles in the Great Britain arena.

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