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We will be closed Monday, 7/1 through Friday, 7/5, reopening Monday, 7/8

René Lalique "Femme Papillon" Brooch

Dating from 1897-1898, this butterfly woman brooch by René Lalique is formed of plique-à-jour enamel, diamonds, and 18K gold. The brooch is designed as chansed gold figure of a slender woman with flowing hair kneeling in an extravagant gown, extending pale green plique-à-jour enamel wings highlighted by graduating lines of old mine and rose-cut diamonds, outlined in green champlevé enamel, the figure with opalescent enamel to its reverse. An example of the artist's exploration of metamorphosis and transformation, this early jewel of subtle beauty and technical perfection expresses Lalique's intellectual interest in the world of contemporary Symbolist artists.

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  • Product Details
  • Curator's Notes

Item #: BO-21496
Artist: René Lalique
Country: France
Circa: 1897-98
Dimensions: 2.5625" length, 0.9375" width.
Materials: 36 old mine-cut and rose diamonds (approximate total weight 0.8 carat); 18K Gold; Plique-à-jour Enamel
Literature: See similar example: René Lalique, Schmuck und Object D'art 1890-1910 by Sigrid Barten, p. 112, plate 48, Kat.Nr. 963.2.

In the late nineteenth century, the image of the butterfly woman had come to represent social change. She was a widely understood symbol (whether resisted or supported) of women's ongoing metamorphosis and emancipation. By the 1890s, women who had entered the popular consciousness for the way they broke boundaries in art and society included the American Loïe Fuller, a mysterious dancer who transformed herself into organic and inorganic forms alike with the aid of colored light and yards of veil-like materials, and the actress Sarah Bernhardt (a friend of Lalique) a beloved yet transgressive figure who occasionally played male roles and yet was also a great femme fatale. Around this time, Lalique made several winged female figures, among them sirens, elves, and naiads, with enamel wings, one of which descended in his family. By 1900, this vision had evolved and become bolder, not only in the jewels he was creating, but in the large bronze winged figures who guarded his installation at the Paris Exposition.