Revisiting the Art of the Peacock: A Golden Age, Fashion & Fantasy, 1894-1920, Part Two

March 1909 cover of Vogue magazine illustrated by  J. Allen St. John

March 1909 cover of Vogue magazine illustrated by
J. Allen St. John

Welcome to part two of a three part series by The Art of Dress in which we explore the influence of one of the world’s most beautiful birds, the peacock, and one of its “Golden” ages of influence on fashion from 1894-1920.

PART TWO: Peacock Accessorized

At the turn of the century, the peacock’s curvilinear form, proud stature, and expansive tail appealed to jewelry and accessory designers of the Art Nouveau and Arts and Crafts Movements.

Folding fan, circa 1915 in the collection of the MET

Folding fan, circa 1915 in the collection of the MET

The fan was an indispensable part of the fashionable woman’s ensemble and the craftsmen who made the exquisite examples featured here employed the peacock in two markedly different ways. Artist Adolphe Thomasse opted for a more literal depiction of the peacock, using the natural fanning of the bird’s tail to define the sweeping arch of his artfully crafted fan, while an anonymous artisan incorporated actual peacock feathers into wooden leaves of a fan, a more typical, but none-the-less-beautiful, approach.

Folding fan by Adolphe Thomasse for Duvelleroy, Circa 1905-1910. In the collection of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Folding fan by Adolphe Thomasse for Duvelleroy, Circa 1905-1910. In the collection of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Similarly, jewelry designers of the era depicted the peacock in a variety of stylized and realistic form, using a menagerie of metals, precious, and semi-precious stones. Louis Comfort Tiffany—a name synonymous with opulent and luxurious jewelry even today—presents the peacock in a miniature mosaic of sapphires, rubies, and emeralds, while René Lalique and Georges Fouquet arrange dual peacocks in mirror images, all in the curvilinear style embraced by artists of the Art Nouveau style. Charles Robert Ashbee utilizes the bird’s body to full effect in this silver and gold displaying peacock—a tribute to the beautiful hand-craftsmanship championed by artists of the Arts and Crafts Movement.

Necklace by Louis Comfort Tiffany for Tiffany & Co., Enamel, opal, amethyst, sapphire, demantoid  garnets, rubies, and emeralds, 1905-1906, Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art,

Necklace by Louis Comfort Tiffany for Tiffany & Co.,
Enamel, opal, amethyst, sapphire, demantoid
garnets, rubies, and emeralds, 1905-1906, Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art,

1901ReneLaliquePendantMet

Pendant by René Jules Lalique, gold, enamel, opal, pearl, diamond, circa 1901, MET

Brooch by Georges Fouquet, 18k gold, enamel, opal, garnet, pearl, circa 1900, Musée des Arts Décoratifs

Brooch by Georges Fouquet, 18k gold, enamel, opal, garnet, pearl, circa 1900, Musée des Arts Décoratifs

Necklace by Charles Robert Ashbee for the Guild of Handicraft Ltd., 1901-1902 (hallmarked), silver, gold, garnet, pearls, diamond sparks, Victoria and Albert Museum  

Necklace by Charles Robert Ashbee for the Guild of Handicraft Ltd., 1901-1902 (hallmarked), silver, gold, garnet, pearls, diamond sparks, Victoria and Albert Museum
 

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