PAIR OF ENAMEL, MOONSTONE, AND STAINED IVORY JAPANESE APPLE BLOSSOM BRANCHES BY CARTIER, PARIS, CIRCA 1925

SOLD: Acquired by the Cartier Collection

A pair of stained ivory, moonstone, and enamel Japanese apple blossom branches, one in a rectangular agate pot and the other in an oval agate pot, each within a glass case; 18-karat yellow gold; in original fitted boxes

  • Boxes marked Cartier
  • Base and glass cases: 5 1/2 x 5 2/3 x 2 3/4 inches
  • Trees: 3 7/8 x 4 3/4 inches

Additional cataloguing

Literature

  • cf. Von Hapsburg, Géza. Fabergé–Cartier Rivalen am Zarenhof. Munich: Hirmer Verlag, 2003, p. 349, nos. 679 and 680.
  • cf. Rudoe, Judy. Cartier 1900–1939. New York: Harry N. Abrams, Publishers and The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1997, p. 112, no. 47.
  • Young-Sánchez, Margaret, et. al. Cartier in the 20th Century. New York: The Vendome Press, 2014, p. 101.

 

Exhibitions

  • Brilliant: Cartier in the 20th Century, Denver Art Museum, Denver, November 16, 2014–March 15, 2015.

 

Biography

Cartier was founded in Paris in 1847 by Louis-François Cartier. His three grandsons, Louis, Pierre, and Jacques, built the house into a famous international jewelry empire serving royalty, Hollywood stars, and socialites. Cartier has created some of the most important jewelry and objects of art of the twentieth century with many iconic designs such as mystery clocks, Tutti Frutti jewelry and the Panthère line. In 1983, The Cartier Collection was established with the objective of acquiring important pieces that trace the firm’s artistic evolution. Today, Cartier has 200 stores in 125 countries.

 

Significance

During the first decade of the twentieth century, Cartier created objects of vertu in the Russian style. Card cases, powder boxes, desk sets, cigarette cases, and paper knives were just a few of the items, but perhaps the most fanciful were sculpted animals and flowers. According to Hans Nadelhoffer in Cartier: Jewelers Extraordinary, “. . . in 1916 Voguewrote of ‘Cartier’s dainty hothouses in which fairy-tale trees with gold and silver trunks sprout leaves of jade.’” In some of the more inventive examples trunks were sculpted out of ivory as exemplified by these two apple blossom branch sculptures.

The arrangement of each flower or plant in Cartier’s naturalistic repertoire was influenced by the traditional Japanese art of flower arrangement, ikebana. Superb examples are the apple blossom branches that are each created with a stained ivory branch sprouting flowers. Also indebted to Japanese models were the individual calyxes detached from the plant and lying on the ground as seen on both arrangements where moonstones have fallen from the branch to the base as well as onto the floor of the case. Capturing the flower as it begins to fade illustrates the Japanese depiction of nature in its transitory state.

All of Cartier’s flowers and trees were housed within glass cases that not only kept the piece free of dust but also positioned the sculpture as a work of art. This pair of apple blossom branch sculptures epitomizes the ingenuity and superb workmanship of this venerable house.