As you know if you collect Art Nouveau, authentic "lady portrait" jewels have become extremely expensive and hard to find. Even later reproductions are soaring in cost, so you simply can't go wrong with this true Victorian treasure at our fabulous price.
Making it even more exceptional, it features TWO portrait heads, brilliant Bohemian ruby and emerald pastes and wonderful Arabesque tracery. Adding further to the exotic look that pays tribute to the Victorian love of travel, these Art Nouveau beauties wear elaborate headscarves that evoke North Africa. The gilt finish, well-preserved and beautifully patinated by time, has the rosy cast favored in the 1890s.
The brooch -- which could easily double as a necklace by pinning it to a ribbon choker -- measures about 1 3/8 inches round, is highly dimensional and has a nice heft that indicates quality. Proper nineteeth-century hardware is present: a clasp of the open "C" type and a hinge of the sort introduced in the 1850s. At some point the pinstem, which would have extended well beyond the brooch, was snipped and filed to a new point -- not a bad idea, since the old elongated pins became dangerous when women gave up wearing layers of underclothing. The hinge may have been reattached or replaced, since flux is visible around it; however, the area is gilded over, so could have been like this all along.
Provenance of the brooch is a Kentucky estate, but I suspect it originated in the British Isles -- based on the four-petal background pattern suggesting a shamrock and the whimsical stylized heart formed by the scarves’ tails. You could look a long time for an Art Nouveau portrait brooch as unusual and charming as this!
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