Art History with Anne Lectures for November/December

What would you like for Christmas?

Faberge Museum St Petersburg

It’s that time of the year when we start to think about Christmas.  I expect we have all dreamt of the ultimate present, a Tiffany diamond bracelet, a Rene Lalique Art Nouveau jewel, or a Faberge trinket (as above!).  While such baubles are beyond my modest pocket, I have still been able to enjoy seeing such treasures in museums across the world.  Lecturing on a Fred Olsen cruise I visited the awesome Fabergé Museum in St Petersburg.  This private collection is housed in the beautiful Shuvalov Palace, on the Fontanka River Embankment.  I have chased Tiffany across world, from the New York Historical Society, where the glittering Tiffany lamps do indeed resemble baubles, to the National Gallery, Canberra.  On my Travel Editions tour, based in Metz, I have been privileged to visit the Lalique Museum in Wingen-sur-Moder several times. I confess in the gift shop I have marked my visit with yet more books and a commemorative fridge magnet.  Drawing on the extensive collection of images that I have accrued over the years, I hope to take you via Zoom to see these wonderful collections in St Petersburg, New York, and Eastern France.  Hopefully in 2022 it will be easier to travel and this series of three lectures will inspire you!

Carl Fabergé: Imperial Presents

Faberge Easter Egg

Like Tiffany & Co., the House of Fabergé was a family firm founded by Gustav Fabergé. Although born in St Petersburg, Peter Carl Fabergé ancestors were Huguenots who fled from France following the revocation of the Edict of Nantes. His father ensured his son acquired a liberal education. Carl embarked on a Grand Tour seeking tuition from the leading goldsmiths of the day in Germany, France, and England.  Age 26 he returned to St Petersburg to join the House of Fabergé by now run by his father’s trusted associate Hiskias Pendin, who acted as his mentor and tutor. In 1885 his brother Agathon Fabergé joined the firm. Wining accolades at the Pan-Russian Exhibition held in Moscow in 1882 for their art jewellery, the House of Fabergé caught the attention of Tsar, AllexanderIII. The first so-called Fabergé egg, the ‘Hen Egg’, given as a gift from the Tsar to his wife Maria Fyodorovna in 1885, so delighted her that on 1 May the Emperor assigned Fabergé the title Goldsmith by special appointment to the Imperial Crown. Many more eggs were to follow. Not even the Tsar knew what form they would take— the only stipulation was that each one should be unique and should contain a surprise. With access to the Hermitage collection, Carl Fabergé was able to develop his personal style by studying the best work of the past. By reviving the lost art of enamelling and focusing on the setting of every single gemstone, Fabergé took the goldsmith’s art to new heights.

Tiffany & Co: from Diamonds to Art Glass

Tiffany Wisteria lamp, New York

Founded by Charles Lewis Tiffany in 1837, the company’s future was secured during the 1848 Year of Revolution across Europe. Fleeing aristocrats were forced to sell their jewels, which Charles Tiffany had the good sense to stockpile. By acquiring and then selling the French Crown jewels in 1887, Tiffany’s fame was assured. Perhaps his most audacious coup was purchasing the Tiffany Yellow Diamond, one of the largest to be discovered. Still the company’s most prized possession it has only be worn by a handful of women: Audrey Hepburn, Lady Gaga and Beyonce. Louis Comfort Tiffany was destined to join the family business, but after developing his skills as an artist he specialised in glass, ceramics, and interior decorating.  His name has become synonymous with stunning Art Nouveau lamps and stained glass windows.  He pioneered new techniques, in effect ‘painting’ with coloured glass, which became known across Europe as American glass.  He was, like many of his generation, inspired by Japan and you will find many of the key Art Nouveau motifs in his work- dragonflies, butterflies, lilies, and poppies.  Expressive of its time, Tiffany’s floral style was eclipsed by the geometric patterns of Art Deco; Tiffany was declared bankrupt in 1932.

Tiffany lamp, New York

Rene Lalique: Master of Art Nouveau Jewellery

Lalique jewel, Lalique Museum Wingen-sur-Moder

Although Lalique is best known for his Art Deco glass of the inter-war years, his career began in the 1890s as the designer of the most innovative Art Nouveau jewellery. After studying in England, from c. 1878-80, Lalique crafted jewels that were works of art rather than just status symbols dependant expensive precious stones. He favoured unusual materials, such as enamelling and semi-precious stones. Influenced by the Symbolist painters of the day, Lalique created jewels that told stories. ‘The Kiss’ was inspired by Rodin’s famous sculpture of two lovers locked in a passionate embrace. Discovered by Sarah Bernhardt, Lalique was charged with creating jewels for her famous theatrical roles.  Inevitably, as his fame spread his style was copied and debased until Lalique felt that he had exhausted the potential of jewellery.  At that very moment, around1907, the perfumer Coty asked Lalique to design labels for his scent bottles, but Lalique surpassed this request, devising the first customised perfume bottle. After the war, Lalique’s name became synonymous with Art Glass.

Lalique brooch

Pay directly using PayPal

One zoom lecture

Carl Fabergé: Imperial Presents

£7.00

One zoom lecture

Tiffany & Co: from Diamonds to Art Glass

£7.00

One zoom lecture

Rene Lalique: Master of Art Nouveau Jewellery

£7.00

Travel Editions Tours

Some news for those of you who are interested in the art and heritage tours, that Scott and I undertake through the Travel Editions company. Although the threat of Covid-19 remains, movement seems easier and Travel Editions has begun to resume some of its tours abroad.

For further details please visit the Travel Editions website: https://www.traveleditions.co.uk to check booking details etc. Alternatively, give them a phone call on 0207 251 0045.

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