1870s Austro-Hungarian Renaissance Revival Bracelet
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Directory: Antiques: Decorative Art: Jewelry: Continental: Pre 1900: Item # 721238
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As museums opened across Europe in the 19th century, people flocked to marvel at the treasures of the past -- and then they wanted the look. This led to a series of historical revivals, including Classical, Gothic, Baroque and Rococo, as well as the Renaissance style we see here. The Austrians (who became Austro-Hungarians after the early 1860s) did particularly lovely work in the Renaissance vein, aided by long experience in enamel painting, which was central to the style.
This splendid bracelet features a charming miniature hand-painted on a cabochon of porcelain. In the richly colored scene, an aristocratic couple are shown outdoors on an autumn day, the young lady playing a lute while her dashing beau sings along. Their attire clearly evokes the early Renaissance. Also true to that era are the wristband of finely formed and textured filigree and the painting's lovely frame, which is constructed architecturally in three layers, with intricate surface patterning and a fine dogtooth collet.
The band is an oval, as is characteristic of much early jewelry and really a better fit on the arm than round. It's on the petite side, suited to a smaller than average wrist (up to about 6 inches).
From a West Coast estate, the bracelet is in marvelous condition. The plaque shows no wear; the hinge and clasp work perfectly; and the rest of the metalwork reveals a few tiny dings only under high magnification. Even the gilding is virtually intact, so the bracelet can't have been worn much. Both its dating (1875-1880) and origin are established by the fact that a necklace featuring precisely the same painted motif is a book piece. (See "Popular Jewelry 1840-1940" by Roseann Ettinger.)
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