Brooch, ca. 1900
Manufacturer: Georges Fouquet (French, 1862–1957); Designer: Alphonse Mucha (Czech, 1860–1939)
Gold, enamel, mother–of–pearl, opal, emerald, colored stones, gold paint.
This remarkable brooch is a highlight of the three-year partnership of Georges Fouquet, the French jeweler known for his inventiveness and high-quality execution, and Alphonse Mucha, the Czech graphic artist whose work perhaps best epitomizes the decorative luxuries of the Art Nouveau style. The two men collaborated from 1899 to 1901. At a time when the emphasis had been on precious stones in traditional settings usually derived from the Louis XVI period, Fouquet and Mucha together redefined fine jewelry design, espousing the belief that the beauty of a jewel depends on its artistic conception. Materials were chosen for their contribution to the overall design, not for their intrinsic value.
Mucha conceived a spectacular series of elaborate jewels to be executed by Fouquet in his Paris atelier. Those objects formed the centerpiece of Fouquet’s display at the 1900 Exposition Universelle in Paris. In 1901, he asked Mucha to carry out an idea that he had kept in mind for a number of years: Fouquet wanted new premises in which the interior decoration harmonized with the jewelry he was creating. By the end of the year, he had moved his business to the Rue Royale, where the interiors were of unparalleled Art Nouveau sumptuousness.