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The European Fine Art

On the first of November, @tefaf opened its virtual doors for the online exhibition, offering an extraordinary selection of artworks that spanned centuries.

Black Label Masterpiece II Green Plume Brooch. CINDY CHAO The Art Jewel. 2020.

@cindychao_theartjewel once again proved that jewellery is magic. 487 fancy-cut emeralds, diamonds, tsavorites, alexandrites and a colour-changing garnet all played a breathtaking symphony of artistic excellence in the Black Label Masterpiece II Green Plume Brooch. The unique shape of the brooch mimics lines of the real plumule, while strategically placed joints ensure the piece’s smooth movement. The setting of gemstones is nothing short of phenomenal, with diamonds sitting so close to each other, one would struggle to spot even the faintest hint of the titanium base.

In Love With Spring. Wallace Chan. 2014.

@wallacechanart is another veteran of TEFAF and is known for his fantasy-inspired jewels that only vaguely resemble earthly inhabitants and, for the most part, echo the mythical creatures from the beloved fairy tales. In Love With Spring brooch is centred with an Imperial Topaz and reveals the wings of diamonds, emeralds, sapphires, tsavorite and garnets. The metalwork of this piece is not any less impressive, the titanium acts not only as the base for the piece but as an artistic element of its own, as seen through the vein-like network that peaks through the stones and reveals itself in all its glory once the brooch is flipped.

Poseidon. Georges Braque. 1962-1963.

Georges Braque, the one at the frontier of the ‘Wearable Art’ movement in France in the mid-twentieth century, ventured into jewellery design only in his seventies. The Poseidon necklace was made by Heger de Löwenfeld from 18k gold, platinum and diamonds and depicts a winged fish as its central motif surrounded by similar figures that fade away into but faint lines. The necklace was inspired by Braque’s 1939 work titled ‘Aeolus II’ and depicted a winges fish as a tribute to the ancient Greek god of winds.

Still Life with a Chafing Dish and Pilgrim’s Canteens. Willem Kalf. 1644.

“For me, at least, there is no question but that should I have the choice of the golden vessels or the picture, I would choose the picture.”, wrote Goethe in 1797 after seeing Willem Kalf’s still life. Kalf, a star of Dutch Golden Age, was known for his unmatched depiction of silver and porcelain pieces, some of which were the works of renowned craftsmen at the time. Linens and silks were another soft spot of Kalf’s and, in this case, act as a tribute to the baroque styles that the painter was so drawn to.

Still life of roses, an iris, hyacinths, columbine and carnation in a glass vase, with a Red Admiral Butterfly. Daniel Seghers. 1640s. Daniel Seghers was known for his exquisitely realistic still life, mostly floral arrangements. His bouquet is both pure and direct, with every brushstroke traced with unimaginable precision. The flowers were picked from the painter’s own garden, some are mature, others only coming into bloom. Segher’s colour juxtaposition is nothing short of astounding, with each petal displayed clearly and earnestly.

A Wet Day on Broadway. Childe Hassam. 1891.

Childe Hassam considered New York ‘the most beautiful city in the world’. The artist depicted the soaked avenues in pastel turned the most urban scene into a dreamy snapshot, with blues and greens swirling in a gorgeous dance. Hassam’s use of colour was described as ‘lavish, astounding and intelligent’ by Boston Evening Transcript in 1891.

Bacchante aux Roses. Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux. 1872.

Bacchante aux Roses is a clear testament to Carpeaux’s technical prowess when it comes to marble and his skill as a portrait artist. Carpeaux was the official portraitist of French Imperial family, which granted him the privilege to commission a series of works for the Opera House of Paris. Bacchante is a derivative of the former group. The figure palpitates life and joy, as seen from the meticulously carved facial features and thin, even wet, cloth covering the bust that suggest dynamism and create a playful contrast with the rosebuds in Bacchante’s hair.

Flowervase. Wenzel Jamnitzer. 1550-85.

Flowervase is arguably one of the most complex works of goldsmithery of the 16th century that solidified Jamnitzer’s position as a goliath in the craft. The filigree vase follows a bizarre structure mimicked by S-shaped handles, somewhat baroque in style. At first glance, one might assume the flowers that fill the vase so perfectly are nothing but a dried bouquet. In reality, however, the flowers are cast entirely out of metal, a technique that was known at the time as ‘naturalia artificialia’. The astonishing attention to detail fully deceives all the senses and leaves the beholders in marvel of the unfathomable things manipulations that can be achieved through craftsmanship and science (even in the 16th century).

Lightstream. Ritsue Mishima. 2020.

Lightstream was born from Mishima’s fascinations with the plays of lights and transparency. The shape of the glass work is composed of spheres connected to each other with fluid elements, creating a visual that treads between a flame and a geyser. The crevices that interrupt smooth surfaces can turn into distorted faces depending on the angle of sun rays that pass through the piece, serving as a metaphor for the elusive and mysterious nature of light.


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