Authentic Victorian Art Nouveau "lady portrait" jewels have become so scarce that even well-made replicas are coveted, so we're delighted to present this treasure from the late 19th or very early 20th century. It's a highly unusual example of the form, being crafted as a hair jewel. Through many years of collecting Art Nouveau, I've never before run across a barrette like this.
Obviously you could transform it into a necklace pendant and/or brooch by having it set in a bezel with the appropriate hardware. Most likely, that would increase its value substantially; however, I find it even more charming in its unexpected present form and would thrill to see it adorning the hair of a young woman or child.
This is a truly spectacular piece -- highly dimensional, large (about 1.5 inches round) and exquisitely detailed. The portrait head is one of the loveliest I've seen, both for the woman's beauty and for her harmony with the floral and foliate shapes surrounding her. A flower wafting from behind settles perfectly over her curls like a ruffled cap!
The influence of French "art medals" is strong and quite possibly an original by one of the masters is recreated here. It probably hails from France, given its provenance (a Louisiana estate). Condition, as you see, is remarkably fine. Quite a bit of patina remains on the aged brass reverse, but the front was brightly polished sometime recently. The hairpin-type barrette catch still works without a glitch after more than a century.
There's no charge for insured U.S. shipping (with an equivalent discount on international delivery). Gift-wrap is also free on request. Please e-mail to confirm availability, order or request more photos. Thanks for looking!