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Collection

The Fouquet Chinese mask,

Sculpted for the Paris Art Deco Exhibition in 1925 and reimagined by Jean Fouquet, circa 1931.

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The frosted rock crystal mask depicting a stylised male Chinese face surmounted by a rounded ebony cap held in white gold above a horizontal border of diamonds. The ears hung with stark vertical diamond-set earrings supported on a panel of white gold emanating from either side of the mask, the chin further set with an articulated band of diamonds emerging from the mouth. A mirror is positioned behind the rock crystal to illuminate it from within, it is backed by a triangular ivorine panel replacing the extant ivory original.

The reverse of the jewel engraved ‘G Fouquet’ and bearing his poinçon, together with the French hallmark for gold.

Complete with its original tubular silver chain. The jewel is presented in a fitted Fouquet box, the suede interior stamped G. Fouquet, Paris.

9.5 cm by 8 cm across

 

Provenance

The rock crystal mask and the articulated band of diamonds emerging from the mouth are identical in form and dimensions to those of the iconic art deco jewel exhibited by Fouquet at the 1925 Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Moderne in Paris.

An archival image of the 1925 jewel is held in the Archives Fouquet at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris and was exhibited there in 1976 and 1983 (Note 1). In it the mask is fitted with a diamond cap and suspending emerald beads from its ears and chin. The design for the jewel also in the  archive bears the symbol of the Fouquet craftsman Louis Fertey, indicating he collaborated in its production.

There is no known record of the 1925 jewel having sold at the Exposition or its whereabouts thereafter. It is highly likely it was dismantled, and the mask later incorporated into this jewel by Jean Fouquet. The emeralds were sizable and possibly used solely for the Exposition, having potentially been borrowed by Georges Fouquet to enhance his display. There are precedents for jewellers borrowing gemstones for exhibitions. Lucien Falize earlier borrowed the Sancy diamond, part of the French crown jewels, for his display at the 1889 Exposition Universelle.

Georges Fouquet’s son Jean joined Maison Fouquet in 1919 and developed into an innovative designer. He forged the firm’s reputation for daring, often angular jewels, focusing on shapes and colour; works that captured the futuristic zeitgeist of the 1930’s. By 1931 he was boldly incorporating ebony into his designs (Notes 2 & 3); its matt texture and dark colour juxtaposed against white precious metals set with gemstones. The flanking panels of polished white metal edged with diamonds in this jewel are strongly echoed in the white metal and diamonds incorporated into another (principally blue enamel) work also created by Jean in 1931(Note 4).

This indicates the mask originally sculpted by Louis Fertey and Georges Fouquet, for the 1925 Exposition was incorporated into this jewel in Paris, by Jean Fouquet in the early 1930’s.

Acquired from Michel Périnet, Paris, 1991.

Private Collection since.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Notes:

1.  Musee des Arts Decoratifs, Paris catalogue ‘Les Fouquet, Bijoutiers et Joaillers a Paris 1860-1960’, 1983 (p. 106).

2. above mentioned 1983 catalogue (pp 140 & 172)

3. ‘Art Deco Jewelry’, Louis Mouillefarine & Evelyne Posseme (Thames & Hudson, 2009) (p. 148)

4.  See above mentioned 1983 catalogue (p. 163 no 122)