Art Nouveau Medal Jewels

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Art Nouveau Gold Medal Jewel - Possibly Depicting Brunhilde.
Photo Courtesy of Lang Antiques.

An interesting subset of the Art Nouveau jewelry movement was the design and production of medal jewels. Scrambling to recoup the losses incurred when cameos and intaglios became passé, jewelers began to imitate ancient Greek and Roman medals and coins. Circa 1880, ancient coins and pseudo ancient coins set in jewelry were the first step toward the creation of the exquisitely detailed medal jewels. French medal engravers, employed by the Paris Mint, were soon in high demand for their engraving and carving skills. The evolution from replica ancient coins and medals to sumptuous Art Nouveau medals, pendants and charms happened quickly. The focus was on creating affordable "modern" jewelry for the masses and France was the center for the design and production of medal jewels. French exports were the impetus for a movement to create medal jewels throughout Europe and the United States.

Art Nouveau Diamond, Ruby & Gold Medal Jewel Depicting a Woman with Flowing Hair.
Photo Courtesy of Lang Antiques.


The invention of an indispensable tool for the purpose of creating medal jewels was key to the success of the style. Designing and hand engraving the miniature marvels required a very special skill set and often several craftsmen were involved in the production of a single medal. A lathe designed in Russia to reduce designs and etch medals and coins was known to have been used at the Moscow Mint c.1700s. Based on the Moscow model, a succession of reducing machines with different mechanisms were developed by the French, culminating in a much improved machine c.1899. This new improved French model was put into use at the French mint. Lalique, among others, experimented with this reducing lathe, tour à réduire, and soon even those without specialized training were able to create fabulous medal jewels with all the detail of a hand engraved piece.

Art Nouveau Gold Cleopatra Medal Watch-Brooch.
Photo Courtesy of Lang Antiques.
Art Nouveau Gold Cleopatra Medal Watch-Brooch, Reverse.
Photo Courtesy of Lang Antiques.


Master medal engravers and those adept at the use of the tour à réduire were in high demand and received important commissions from the top jewelers. The Jewelry firm of Maison G. Desbazeille very successfully marketed medal jewels, which they often enhanced with elaborate patinas and enamels. On the leading edge of the popularity of medal jewels, Desbazeille commissioned Vernier to create 'Cleopatra', 'The Four Seasons', 'Women with Flowers' and 'Saint George' medals to name a few. The firm also kept Roty, an expert in the use of the tour à réduire, occupied with the design for both religious and irreligious medals. Roty's skill made him popular with many of the manufacturers who were interested in offering medal jewels in their line.


The partnership of Duval et Le Turcq, working together circa 1885 - 1889, began producing uncharacteristically heavy religious jewels, which became a sensation and soon they added floral and foliate motifs which they accented with matte enamel. After their firm split, they each went on to commission medals from the finest designers of the day. An incredibly unique thimble, commissioned by Duval and designed by Vernon, depicted seamstresses in great detail all around. It is believed that Paul Kruger, President of the Transvaal, presented the thimble to Queen Wilhelmina on the occasion of her wedding. [1]


The artisans whose works could now be drawn upon for the creation of medal jewels came from many different mediums, including sculptors, poster artists, designers and jewelers. This resulted in a unique blending of aesthetics and a nouveau perspective on design. The roots of the medal jewel are found in the archaeological revival period and, as design moved toward the fin d' siècle, we begin to see the Art Nouveau influence in their design. Feminine figures, flowing hair, flowers and classic subjects such as the "Three Graces" and "Four Seasons" appeared as the more coin-like medals waned. "Habilles" style medals, appearing around 1899, with their diamond accents, proved to be a turning point for the popularity of the medal jewel.


Medal jewels were spotted in the inventory of nearly every jeweler of the day. The medallists became an overwhelming success and medal style brooches, stickpins, pendants, medallions, bracelets and buttons produced in silver and gold as well as base metals accented with gilt were abundant. The coin shaped form gave way to many more interesting outlines, sometimes pierced to accentuate dimension. Subjects deviated from the classical figures of the earlier years to include animals, flowers, insects, and religious figures. Many of these jewels remain extant despite the troublesome trend toward melting gold jewelry as the price of gold rises.


Medallist Jewelry Maker's Marks

Becker, Edmond-Henri Jewelry Maker's Mark

Edmond-Henri Becker

BECKER Edmond Henri.svg

Edmond-Henri Becker
France
Paris
b.1871

Specialties

  • Sculptor, Woodcarver, Medallist & Jeweler

Designed for

  • Boucheron
  • Much of his work for Boucheron was produced by Ferdinand Verger and chased by Paul Richard.
  • Many Art Nouveau jewelers favored his designs.
  • Participated in the Paris Salons and was praised in the art journals of the day.


Borrel, Alfred Jewelry Maker's Mark

Alfred Borrel

BORREL Alfred.svg

Alfred Borrel
France
b.1836

Specialties

  • Sculptor
  • Medallist

Member

  • Darmstadt Artists' Colony c.1899


Bosselt, Rudolf Jewelry Maker's Mark

Rudolf Bosselt

BOSSELT Rudolf1.svg

Rudolf Bosselt
Germany
1871-1938

Specialties

  • Medallist
  • Jewelry Designer
  • Chaser
  • Art Nouveau sculptures, medals and plaques.

1899-1903

  • Member of the Darmstadt Artists' Colony

1903-1911

  • Taught at the Dusseldorf Kunstgewerbe School.

1910

  • Designed medals and plaques for the World Exhibition, Brussels.


BOSSELT Rudolf2.svg

Bottée, Louis Alexandre Jewelry Maker's Mark

Louis Alexandre Bottée

BOTTEE Louis Alexandre.svg

Louis Alexandre Bottée
France
Paris
1852-1941

Specialties

  • Sculptor
  • Medallist 1890-1900
  • Studied at the Paris Ecole des Beaux Arts.

Designer jewelry plaques and medals.


Callot, Jacques Jewelry Maker's Mark

Jacques Callot

CALLOT Jacques.svg

Jacques Callot
France
fl.c.1900

Specialties

  • Sculptor
  • Medallist


Carabin, François Rupert Jewelry Maker's Mark

François Rupert Carabin

CARABIN Francois Rupert.svg

François Rupert Carabin
France
1862-1932

Specialties

  • Sculptor
  • Medallist

Designer

  • Jewelry
  • Metalwork
  • Sculpted bone jewelry.

1884

  • Founder: Société des Artistes Independants with Georges Seurat, Paul Signac & Albert Dubois-Pillet.


Cazin, J.M. Michel Jewelry Maker's Mark

J.M. Michel Cazin

CAZIN JM Michael.svg

J.M. Michel Cazin
France
1869-1917

Specialties

  • Sculptor
  • Medallist


Chaplain, Jules Clément Jewelry Maker's Mark

Jules Clément Chaplain

CHAPLAIN Jules Clement.svg

Jules Clément Chaplain
France
1839-1909

Specialties

  • Sculptor
  • Medallist


Chapu, Henri Michael Antoine Jewelry Maker's Mark

Henri Michael Antoine Chapu

CHAPU Henri Michel A.svg

Henri Michael Antoine Chapu
France
1833-1891

Specialties

  • Sculptor
  • Medallist


Charpentier, Alexandre Jewelry Maker's Mark

Alexandre Charpentier

CHARPENTIER Alexandre1.svg

Alexandre Charpentier
France
1856-1909

Specialties

  • Medallist
  • Designer for Fontain Freres Vaillant.
  • Cartier used his design skills.


CHARPENTIER Alexandre2.svg

Cissarz, Johann Vincenze Jewelry Maker's Mark

Johann Vincenze Cissarz

CISSARZ Johann Vincenze.svg

Johann Vincenze Cissarz
Germany
1873-1942

Specialties

  • Medallist, Silver Designer, Painter

Designed for

  • Alfred Berger


Coudray, Marie Alexandre Jewelry Maker's Mark

Marie Alexandre Coudray

COUDRAY Marie Alexandre.svg

Marie Alexandre Coudray
France
Paris
b.1864

Specialties

  • Sculptor
  • Medallist
  • Studied at the Ecole des Beaux Arts under Ponscarme.

c.1890s

  • Created medal jewels.
  • Grand Prix de Rome. 1893 for a bas-relief of Orpheus at the gates of Hell
  • Silver Medal a the Paris Universal Exhibition, 1900


Damman, Paul-Marcel Jewelry Maker's Mark

Paul-Marcel Damman

DAMMANN Paul Marcel.svg

Paul-Marcel Damman
France
1885-1939

Specialties

  • Medallist


Dasio, Ludwig Jewelry Maker's Mark

Ludwig Dasio

DASIO Ludwig.svg

Ludwig Dasio
Germany
Munich
e.1900

Specialties

  • Medallist & Metalworker


Descomps, Emanuel-Jules Joe Jewelry Maker's Mark

Emanuel-Jules Joe Descomps

DESCOMPS Emanuel Jules Joe.svg

Emanuel-Jules Joe Descomps
France
1872-1978

Specialties

  • Goldsmith
  • Sculptor, Medallist & Engraver
  • Enamelist
  • Jewelry Featuring Engraving & Enamels
  • Trained with Falguières


Dropsy, Jean-Bapiste-Emile Jewelry Maker's Mark

Jean-Bapiste-Emile Dropsy

DROPSY Jean Baptiste Emile.svg

Jean-Bapiste-Emile Dropsy
France
Paris
1858-1923

Specialties

  • Medallist
  • Religious medals, plaques and brooches
  • Worked for the firm of L. Chalin and others.
  • Won a third class medal at the 1898 Paris Salon.


Dupuis, Jean-Baptiste Daniel Jewelry Maker's Mark

Jean-Baptiste Daniel Dupuis

DUPUIS Jean Baptiste Daniel.svg

Jean-Baptiste Daniel Dupuis
France
1849-99

Specialties

Medallist


Elkan, Benno Jewelry Maker's Mark

Benno Elkan

EKLAN Benno.svg

Benno Elkan
Germany
(1877-1933)

Specialties

  • Medallist & Sculptor
  • Born in Germany, emigrated to Great Britain.


Engelhard, Roland Jewelry Maker's Mark

Roland Engelhard

ENGELHARD Roland.svg

Roland Engelhard
Germany
Hanover
(1868-1951)

Specialties

  • Sculptor & Medallist


Epinay De Briort, Prosper, Comte d' Jewelry Maker's Mark

Comte Prosper d'Epinay De Briort

EPINAY DE BRIORT Prosper Comte d.svg

Comte Prosper d'Epinay De Briort
France
Paris
(1836-1914)

Specialties

  • Medallist
  • Sculptor and jeweler.
  • Especially figurative jewelry, translating sculpture in to medals.
  • Engraver
  • Studied in Paris and Rome (Mauritius)


Fémes Beck, Vilmos Jewelry Maker's Mark

Vilmos Fémes Beck

BECK Vilmos Femes.svg

Vilmos Fémes Beck
Austria
(1885-1918)

Specialties

  • Goldsmith, Medallist & Sculptor
  • Worked with J.M. Olbrich.
  • Budapest Austro-Hungarian


Gosen, Theodor von Jewelry Maker's Mark

Theodor von Gosen

GOSEN Theodor von.svg

Theodor von Gosen
Germany
Munich
(1873-1943)

Specialties

  • Designer
  • Medallist
  • Sculptor
  • Vereinigte Werkstätten c.1900
  • Favored feminine figural motifs


Habich, Ludwig Jewelry Maker's Mark

Ludwig Habich

HABICH Ludwig.svg

Ludwig Habich
Germany
(1872-1949)

Specialties

  • Medallist & Designer

1899-1906

  • Member of the Darmstadt Artist's Colony

Designs produced by


Hahn, Hermann Jewelry Maker's Mark

Hermann Hahn

HAHN Hermann.svg

Hermann Hahn
Germany
(1868-1939

Specialties

  • Medallist & Sculptor


Janvier, Lucien Joseph René Jewelry Maker's Mark

Lucien Joseph René Janvier

JANVIER Lucien Joseph Rene.svg

Lucien Joseph René Janvier
France
Paris
b.1878

Specialties

  • Medallist
  • Pupil of Faguieres and Mercié.
  • Specialized in tour à réduire - the technique of reducing designs of engraving or sculptures for use on medals.
  • Jeweler
  • Sculptor


Kautsch, Heinrich Jewelry Maker's Mark

Heinrich Kautsch

KAUTSCH Heinrich.svg

Heinrich Kautsch
Austria
Vienna
(1859–1943)

Specialties

b. Prague & d. Vienna

  • Medallist & Sculptor

1882

  • School of Applied Arts, Prague - Professor.

1887

  • Curator - Museum, Budweis.

1888

  • Published Goldsmiths of the 15th to 19th Century.

1889

  • Studied in Paris.


Kounitsky, Franz Jewelry Maker's Mark

Franz Kounitsky

KOUNITSKY Franz.svg

Franz Kounitsky
Austria
(1880-?)

Specialties

  • Medallist


Kowarzik, Joseph Jewelry Maker's Mark

Joseph Kowarzik

KOWARZIK Joseph.svg

Joseph Kowarzik
Austria
(1860-1911)

Specialties

  • Medallist


Krupp, Arthur Jewelry Maker's Mark

Arthur Krupp

KRUPP Arthur1.svg

Arthur Krupp
Austria
Berndorf, Esslingen, Milan
e.1843

Specialties

  • Silversmiths
  • Manufacturers
  • Medallists
  • Alesander Schoeller & Alfred Krupp, e.1843
  • Arthur Krupp - from 1879.


KRUPP Arthur2.svg

KRUPP Arthur3.svg

Ködding, Johannes Jewelry Maker's Mark

Johannes Ködding

KODDING Johannes.svg

Johannes Ködding
Germany
b.1876

Specialties

  • Medallist


Lalique, René Jewelry Maker's Mark

Lalique

LALIQUE Rene1.svg

Lalique
France
Paris
(1860-1945)

Specialties

Materials

1876

  • Apprentice to Louis Aucoc at age sixteen.

1878

  • Studied graphic design in London.

1880

  • Worked with Auguste Petit.
  • Designed fans, fabrics and wallpaper.

1882

  • Independent jewelry designer.

1884

  • Went into business with M. Varenne - signed Lalique et Varene, rue de Vaugirard 84

1885

  • Begins fabricating in the style that would make him famous.

1887

1889

  • Exposition Universelle features his work anonymously in Vever and Boucheron's displays.

1892

  • Begins to use glass
  • Designer of jewelry for Sarah Bernhardt & Maison de l'Art Nouveau.

1897

  • Legion of Honour's Croix de Chevalier.

1900

  • Lalique displays at Universal Exhibition (Paris) to great acclaim.

1925

  • Exposition Internationale des Arts Decoratifs et Industriels exhibits "The Springs of France".
  • Begins manufacturing objet and statuettes in the "Lalique" Style.

1945

  • Death of René Lalique.
  • After his death, firm Run By Son Marc and later Marie-Claude.


LALIQUE Rene2.svg LALIQUE Rene3.svg

LALIQUE Rene4.svg

Legros, Alphonse Jewelry Maker's Mark

Alphonse Legros

LEGROS Alphonse.svg

Alphonse Legros
UK
(1837-1911)

Specialties

  • Medallist


Magnussen, Harro Jewelry Maker's Mark

Harro Magnussen

MAGNUSSEN HARRO.svg

Harro Magnussen
Germany
(1861-1908)

Specialties

  • Medallist


Marschall, Rudolf Ferdinand Jewelry Maker's Mark

Rudolf Ferdinand Marschall

MARSCHALL Rudolf Ferdinand.svg

Rudolf Ferdinand Marschall
Austria
Vienna
(1873-1967)

Specialties

  • Medallist & Sculptor
  • Studied at the School of Engraving.

1903

  • Medallist to the Imperial Court.

1905

  • Director - Vienna School of Arts


Pfeifer, Felix Jewelry Maker's Mark

Felix Pfeifer

PFEIFER Felix.svg

Felix Pfeifer
Germany
(1871-1945)

Specialties

  • Medallist


Pillet, Charles Jewelry Maker's Mark

Charles Pillet

PILLET Charles.svg

Charles Pillet
France
Paris
b.1869

Specialties

  • Medallist


Ponscarme, Hubert Jewelry Maker's Mark

Hubert Ponscarme

PONSCARME Hubert.svg

Hubert Ponscarme
France
Paris
1827-1945

Specialties

  • Medallist & Sculptor
  • Teacher: Ecole des Beaux Arts.
  • Promoted the medallist field to Charpentier & Coudray and other.


Roche, Pierre Jewelry Maker's Mark

Pierre Roche

ROCHE Pierre.svg

Pierre Roche
France
1855-1922

Specialties

  • Medallist


Romer, Georg Jewelry Maker's Mark

Georg Romer

ROMER Georg1.svg

Georg Romer
Germany
(1868-1922)

Specialties

Medallist & Sculptor


ROMER Georg2.svg

Seffner, Carl Jewelry Maker's Mark

Carl Seffner

SEFFNER Carl.svg

Carl Seffner
Germany
Leipzig
(1861-1932)

Specialties

  • Medallist & Sculptor
  • Seffner was known for sculpting Johann Sebastian Bach from a cast of his skull.


Spicer-Simpson, Théodore Jewelry Maker's Mark

Théodore Spicer-Simpson

SPICER SIMPSON Theodore.svg

Théodore Spicer-Simpson
France
1871-1859

Specialties

  • Medallist


Sturm, Paul Jewelry Maker's Mark

Paul Sturm

STURM Paul.svg

Paul Sturm
Germany
(1859-1936)

Specialties

  • Medallist & Sculptor


Sucharda, Stanislas Jewelry Maker's Mark

Stanislas Sucharda

SUCHARDA Stanislas.svg

Stanislas Sucharda
Austria
(1866-1916) e.1882

Specialties

  • Medallist & Sculptor
  • Worked in the Jugendstil style of Art Nouveau.
  • Studied and taught at the School for Decorative Art, Prague.


Turin, Pierre Jewelry Maker's Mark

Pierre Turin

TURIN Pierre.svg

Pierre Turin
France
1891-1968

Specialties

  • Medallist


Vernier, Séraphin Emile Jewelry Maker's Mark

Séraphin Emile Vernier

VERNIER Seraphin Emile.svg

Séraphin Emile Vernier
France
Paris
1852-1927

Specialties

  • Medallist
  • Engraver

Worked for:

1887

  • Adapted medal engraving techniques for use on jewelry.



Yencesse, Ovide Jewelry Maker's Mark

Ovide Yencesse

YENCESSE Ovide1.svg

Ovide Yencesse
France
1869-1947

Specialties

  • Medallist
  • Engraver


YENCESSE Ovide2.svg

Notes

  1. Verver p. 1050-1059.

Sources

  • Becker, Vivienne Becker. Art Nouveau Jewelry, London: Thames & Hudson, Ltd., 1985.
  • Verver, Henri, Purcell, Katherine (translator). French Jewelry of the Nineteenth Century. Paris, France: H. Floury, 1906-1908 - Reprinted: London: Thames & Hudson, Ltd., 2001.
Lang Antiques
Lang Antiques