By Alain, April 17th 2008
Today I visited the Arts & Antiques Fair in 's Hertogenbosh, The Netherlands. It is an annual fair with mostly stands from Dutch antiques dealers from all art disciplines, although dealers from neighboring countries also exposed their antiques. It is by no means comparable with the TEFAF fair in Maastricht, yet the quality of the goods was - as usual - of high caliber.
For the AJU I am busy researching the cannetille topic for a while now and what I thought would be an easy write, turned out to be a long search for origins, nomenclature and good examples. That search first lead me to the local library, the university of Tilburg and the textile museum. Especially the latter proved to be very fruitful in finding out some of the origins on cannetille jewelry (although more related to passementery). Very valuable information came from a restorer of this special type of jewelry in the South-West of The Netherlands who also invited me to observe the process in the near future. Their specialty was however in peasant cannetille jewelry which dated mostly from the second half of the 19th century hitherto. That is of course not the time frame in which cannetille jewelry reached its height in civil fashion, around 1830. The technique, of course, remains the same.
As I know this type of peasant or folklore jewelry very well I must admit that the civil variety was not handled by me much and I really needed to see it up close again. I was in luck as this week the fair was running and it was close by.
The first stand I visited was of a very reputable jeweler from The Hague. They had several cannetille work, all was folklore wear though and of a later date than what I was looking for (although they conveniently placed it in the first half of the 19th century time frame). I ran past the several other dealers and I was out of luck on all of them. That is until I came to the stand of Dekker from Amsterdam. I was about to get desperate and there it was, in the last show case .. a magnificent and very large pendant in cannetille from its heydays. It was made in France around 1830 of tri-color gold set with an amethyst and various other gemstones in different hues which were so typical of the time. The delicate work was that of plate cannetille with the usual spiders that were beautifully alternated with palmets and other cannetille ornaments with some remnants of enamel work. Mrs. Dekker let me take an upclose look and assured me to send an image of it which was published recently in a local antiques magazine. To my shame I must confess that I don't have the magazine and that is even worse considering that I worked closely with the publisher for years (I got them for free in those days). She was surprised me asking about the necklace - it came with a beautiful double chain - as I was the first one in the whole week taking notice of it. We had a pleasant small conversation afterwards, mostly about my retired former employer in Amsterdam, and she invited me to visit her store to show me more period cannetille work.
While I go to the shows with specific goals, I must keep an eye open for anything out of the ordinary. For that I visited several websites of the exhibitors prior to attending the show and there was one thing that caught my attention on the website of Ans Hemke-Kuilboer, also from Amsterdam. It was a lovely Edwardian brooch/pendant set with an amethyst, a peridot and white diamonds. I told myself to not forget to see that as it held a very appealing story. Due to my frantic search for cannetille work I forgot that while I was at her stand (she was busy) and my eyes fell on a gorgeous pair of diamond girandole earrings. It was very sophisticated in both work as size, not at all compared with the very large examples one may encounter at times. This French - marked - pair was made around 1880 and the pendant could be removed so the upper parts could be worn as solitaires. I thanked the saleswomen for showing it to me and demonstrating how good they looked on one of them and set off on my quest again. Only to find myself remembering what I came to see the minute I walked out of the hall, the Eduardian brooch.
On my return Mrs. Hemke-Kuilboer was available (not that her co-workers were incapable) and she explained the meaning of the brooch to me, it was a suffragette jewel. It was the most amusing story that I was unaware of and I listened with working ears while she and her co-worker explained the meaning of the colors in the jewel to me. The colors purple, white and green were the colors of the suffragette movement which fought to give voting rights to women in the early part of the 20th century (a split from the 19th century suffragists).
Two other items that I found most interesting were a fer de berlin necklace from Fabery de Jonge and an antique Toledo gold/steel brooch at the stand of Bosdorf (Germany).
I went home satisfied and happy.