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Blog Cartier Inspiration

A Maison’s sources of inspiration: Cartier & the Neo Louis XVI style

The consistency of Cartier’s style is forged by a system of recurring references, emblematic motifs that are found on a whole range of objects and give rise to a large number of variations.

The sources of inspiration which are the foundation of Cartier’s history and heritage are varied, and cannot be explained in one single post.

This is why today I will take you through the Neo-Louis XVI style (my favourite, toghether with Art Nouveau).

Considered as a moment of perfection and a model of balance in French taste and decorative arts, the Louis XVI style is one of the most constant references, notably expressed through the reinterpretation of Marie Antoinette’s intimate world of the Trianon. A reinterpretation which goes beyond the mere revival, to state the brilliance of an era representing the highest in French Classicism.

By elaborating the purest and most balanced architectural forms and lines, and by translating them into jewellery creations, Louis Cartier thus reveals the modernity of Art Nouveau’s abstraction, which the Maison begins designing in those years.

Etude de motifs décoratifs Louis XVI d'après Ranson, Cartier Paris, vers 1910. encre de Chine sur papier transparent. Archives Cartier Paris.
Ornamental Louis XVI motives study by Ranson, Cartier Paris, circa 1910. Indian ink on transparent paper. Cartier Archives, Paris.
Portrait de Marjorie Merriweather Post en Marie Antoinette Edward F. Caldwell & Company, Inc. (cadre), 1927. Le cadre contient une miniature à l'aquarelle sur ivoire par C.F. Patino.
Marjorie Merriweather Post portrait as Marie Antoinette. Edward F. Caldwell & Company, Inc. (frame), 1927. The frame encircles a watercolor-on-ivory miniature portrait by C.F. Patino.
Pendentif Cartier Paris vers 1905, or, argent, diamants ronds taille ancienne.
Cartier Pendant, Paris circa 1905, gold, silver, old-cut round shape diamonds.
Broche noeud, Cartier Paris, 1898, or, argent, diamants taille ancienne et rose.
“Broche noeud” (Bow Brooch), Cartier Paris, 1898, gold, silver, old-cut and rose-cut diamonds.
Broche noeud dentelle, Cartier Paris 1906, platine, or, diamants de forme coussin, taille marquise, ronds taille rose et ancienne, serti millegrain et serti clos. Le grand motif se détache. Vendu à sir Ernest Cassel.
“Broche noeud dentelle” (Bow Lace Brooch), Cartier Paris 1906, platinum, gold, marquise-cut cushion shape diamonds, old-cut and rose-cut round diamonds, millegrain set and close set. The central piece is detachable. Sold to sir Ernest Cassel.
Cartier devant de corsage of sapphires and diamonds presented to Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna the Younger by her father Grand Duke Paul on her marriage to Prince William of Sweden, present whereabouts unknown. Part of a parure of at least tiara, necklace, and this piece.
Cartier devant de corsage of sapphires and diamonds presented to Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna the Younger by her father Grand Duke Paul on her marriage to Prince William of Sweden, present whereabouts unknown. Part of a parure of at least tiara, necklace, and this piece.
Cartier devant de corsage1
Devant de corsage Lys. Cartier Paris, 1906, platinum, old-cut and rose-cut round diamonds, millegrain set. The setting on curbed surfaces allows for a three-dimensional effect. Thanks to the two branches articulating around the central diamond, the devant de corsage could be adjusted. Origin: Mary Scott Townsend and Mrs Donald McElroy.
Cartier devant de corsage, Cartier Paris, 1912. Platine, diamants ronds taille ancienne et rose, serti millegrain. Le centre se détache pour être porte en broche. Le diamant du bas est suspendu librement dans son anneau.
Devant de corsage, Cartier Paris, 1912. Platinum, old-cut and rose-cut round diamonds, millegrain set. The central piece can be used as a brooch. The lower diamond moves freely in its ring.
Pendentif, Cartier Paris, 1912, platine, diamants ronds taille ancienne et rose, deux cabochon de saphir etoilé (13,45 et 1,98 carats), perles fines goutte et rondes, cristal de roche gravé, serti millegrain. provenance: Mr and Mrs Stephen Silver. Cette pièce est l'une des premieres oeuvres de Cartier réalisées avec du cristal de roche.
Pendant, Cartier Paris, 1912, platinum, old-cut and rose-cut round diamonds, two cabochon-cut star sapphires (13,45 and 1,98 carats), round and drop-shaped pearls, engraved rock crystal, millegrain. Origin: Mr and Mrs Stephen Silver.
This is one of Cartier’s first creation using rock crystal.
Cartier devant de corsage
Devant de corsage, Cartier Paris, 1909, platinum, cushion-shaped diamonds, old-cut and rose-cut round diamonds, millegrain set.
Scan 142710009-6
Broche draperie, Cartier Paris, 1913, platinum, gold, old-cut round diamonds, five cushion-shaped sapphires for a total weigh of 39,66 carats, faceted and calibrated sapphires, millegrain set and close set. Origin: Marie-Emilie, countess Esterházy. Cartier named “broche draperie” those pendant brooches formed by two elements joint together by a pin, to which the pendant would be suspended, originally a “guirlande” style drape.
Devant de corsage, Cartier Paris, commande speciale de 1907, platine, diamants ronds taille ancienne et taille rose, un saphir de forme poire, sept saphirs de forme coussin (poids total des saphirs 51 carats environ), serti millegrain. Il est exceptionnel qu'une pièce de cette dimension (21x12,9cm) ait pu rester intact durant une centaine d'années, alors que les devants de corsage, tout comme les diadèmes, étaient dessertis ou transformes une fois passée de mode.
Devant de corsage, Cartier Paris, special order 1907, platinum, old-cut and rose-cut round diamonds, a pear-shaped sapphire, seven cushion-shaped sapphires (sapphires’ total weigh circa 51 carats), millegrain set. 
it is quite exceptional for a piece if such dimensions (21×12,9 cm) to have remained untouched for almost one hundred years, considering how both the devant the corsage and the tiaras used to be redesigned following the leading fashion of the time.

 

Source material: Cartier: le style et l’histoire, Laurent Salomé, Laure Dalon, published on the occasion of the exhibit organized by the Réunion des Musés Nationaux – Grand Palais: “Cartier: le style et l’histoire” – Grand Palais’ Salon d’Honneur, Paris, from December 4 2014 to February 16 2014.

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