Sotheby’s celebrates the unsung heroes behind some of the world’s greatest jewellery designs in this one-off exhibition in London.
A new Sotheby’s exhibition shines the spotlight on a crucial but often overlooked part of the jewellery world: the drawings that form the starting point of every great jewel.
Masters of Design will feature hundreds of previously unseen drawings by celebrated jewellery houses such as Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels, Boucheron, Verdura, Rubin and Bolin. Spanning almost a century from the 1890s to the 1960s, the exhibition includes studies for iconic designs such as Cartier’s Tutti Frutti jewels and Van Cleef & Arpels' Art Deco creations.
A selection of sketches showcase the genesis of Cartier’s designs from the lace-like chokers of the late 19th century through to the jeweller’s Egyptian and Chinese periods, and on to the colourful Tutti Frutti tiara of the 1920s. The Sotheby’s exhibition also shows how private jewellery commissions by the likes of A Vanderbilt and Princess Marie Bonaparte started life as drawings by the “unsung” heroes of jewellery design, whose work was seldom recognised by the outside world.
Sourced from a rare and privately owned collection of jewellery and silver, the drawings will be shown alongside jewels from Sotheby’s Geneva sale in May and a selection of vintage clothing. Together, the displays will offer a comprehensive overview of key aesthetic movements such as the Belle Époque and Art Deco eras, as well as 1950s glamour.
A series of drawings that formed the basis for Cartier’s iconic Freed Bird brooch, which symbolised the liberation of France from German occupation.