An Antique Gold and Gem-set Bracelet attributed to Simon Petiteau
centred with a raised circular panel applied with a ruby and diamond set flower surrounded by vari-coloured gold foliate motifs set with emeralds, rubies and Hungarian opals, flanked by two emerald and diamond-set flowers, the openwork band composed of intricately pierced cannetille work of vari-coloured gold quatrefoil motifs, with green gold centres.
An engraving for a very similar bracelet centre by Petiteau is illustrated Les Bijoux Anciens et Modernes, by Eugène Fontenay, p. 295 (1887), the author specifically describing the meticulously stamped ornaments intermingled with rosettes and cannetille work. The same engraving is reproduced in Henri Vever’s La Bijouterie Française au XIXe Siècle, Vol. I p.228 (1906), translated edition p. 319 (2001).
Petiteau’s speciality was graineti (clusters of gold beads) and cannetille (consisting of tightly coiled threads of gold) set with colourful precious and semi-precious stones. The technique was further explored by his son Eugène who succeeded him around 1845. According to fellow jeweller Oscar Massin, he was responsible for the popularity of the ‘bohemian’ jewel as well as creations in the Moorish taste, made around 1850, using black enamelled silver wirework set with corals.
Henri Vever credits Simon Petiteau, along with Alexis Falize, as the only jewellers who produced innovative and attractive designs at a time when jewellery was generally considered to be of deplorable taste, especially under the reign of Louis-Philippe. A turquoise set frontlet in the style of Petiteau’s work forms part of the Hull-Grundy Gift to the British Museum, and a bracelet by Simon Petiteau is housed in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.