Height: 5.000 cm
Width: 16.000 cm
Gift of Professor and Mrs John Hull Grundy
M&ME Hull Grundy Catalogue 1105
Room 48: Europe 1900 to now
Silver and enamel box, by Eugène Feuillâtre
Paris, France, around AD 1902
This magnificent decorative box is a tour de force of the enameller's art. It was executed by Eugène Feuillâtre (1870-1916), a French enameller who originally worked with the jeweller René Lalique (1860-1945) before setting up his own studio in 1897. Enamelling involves fusing ground coloured glass onto a metal surface by heating it in a kiln. The particular technique used on the lid of this box is called plique-à-jour, which is different from other forms of enamelling in that there is no base plate supporting it underneath. Instead, pockets of transparent colour are suspended in a fine metal framework like miniature stained glass windows. The lid is mounted in the centre with a large amethyst, which complements the subtle colours of the enamels. The sides of the box are decorated with stylized lilies in red enamel. For these the champlevé technique has been used, whereby pools of enamel are melted in troughs in the silver.
In its use of stylized butterflies and flower motifs, this box provides a classic example of the French Art Nouveau style, and it is not surprising to learn that Feuillâtre was closely associated with this movement, particularly the Belgian group Libre Esthétique ('Free Aesthetic').
C. Gere and others, The art of the jeweller: a cat, 2 vols. (, 1984)
G. Mourey et al., Art Nouveau jewellery and fans (New York, Dover Publications, 1973)
M. Koch and others, The Belle Epoque of French jew (London, 1990)
D. Lancaster, Art Nouveau jewellery (London, Little & Brown, 1996)