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.