Artist: Eugêne Fontenay (French, 1823–1887)
Date: ca. 1870
Culture: French, Paris
Medium: Gold, enamel and diamonds
Dimensions: L. 16-3/8 in. (41.6 cm.)
Classification: Metalwork-Gold and Platinum
Credit Line: Gift of Dorothy Burr Thompson, 1987
Accession Number: 1987.252
This gold chain has five oval enameled pendants depicting personifications of Europe and the Seasons. Each oval is framed in diamonds interspersed with long stylized palmette-shaped pendants, and forty-one leaf-shaped pendants, decorated with granulation and wirework suspended from alternately plain and coiled tubular links.
The use of granulation and images of classical maidens, as well as the overall organization, demonstrate the designer's dependence upon ancient Greek gold jewelry for inspiration. Like the Castellani firm in Rome, Eugène Fontenay reproduced jewelry in ancient Greek, Roman, and other historical styles. However, not only did Fontenay copy period originals, he also took motifs from these styles and, with them, created original designs.