Georges Braque: jewels in flight

This small work on paper by Georges Braque titled “Oiseaux” (birds) will be auctioned at Christie’s London next week, one of many loosely-styled studies of birds in flight the artist produced in the final years of his life, working with a master printmaker.

At the same time, in the early 1960s, Braque teamed up with a jeweler to produce his first and only jewelry collection using the same motif – the bird in flight – along with other stylized images and mythological themes from his art works.

“Oiseaux” is expected to bring $38-54,000 – four times the price a similar bird bearing the artist’s name (“Bijuoux de Braque”) brought at the same auction house on Wednesday, and that bird was made of gold and set with sapphires.

Teree brooch of textured gold set with sapphires by Georges Braque, 1960s, sold for $12,561 at Christie's London June 13, 2012 (Christie's Images)

“Teree” was one of four gold brooches designed by Braque in the June 13 jewelry sale at Christie’s London. All sold for slightly above estimates, between $9 and $13 thousand. Three depicted birds in flight, one the profile of a woman.


Procis brooch of amber-colored enamel bird set in gold, signed Bijoux de Braque Par Héger de Lowenfeld, 1960s, sold for $12,561 at Christie's London June 13, 2012 (Christie's Images)

Megaletor brooch of gold with sapphire eye and turquoise accents by Georges Braque, 1960s, sold for $9,663 at Christie's London June 13, 2012 (Christie's Images)

Braque (1882-1963) is best known for the Cubist-style painting he pioneered with Pablo Picasso in the years leading up to World War I. When he resumed work in 1916 after a severe head injury, his art took a more ethereal direction. While he remained devoted to the fragmentation of Cubism, he abandoned the angular abstractions and began to explore still lifes, color and texture, and eventually stylized human forms.

Atalante brooch of gold with ruby eye by Georges Braque, 1960s, sold for $11,595 at Christie's London June 13, 2012 (Christie's Images)

Beginning in 1961, the 79-year-old Braque began working with Baron Héger de Lowenfeld on a collection of gold jewels translated from the artist’s lithographs and graphic works.

As famous Modern artists go, Braque was one of the more successful at spinning his art into gold, despite the last-minute effort it represented. He certainly showed up Picasso on that score, who along with Max Ernst, made a halfhearted attempt at designing gold jewelry, working with goldsmith François Hugo. Both Ernst and Picasso ended up with rather flat, lifeless plaques based on iconic images from their paintings.

The success of Braque’s jewelry may have as much to do with the jeweler he chose to work with as it did his own ability to translate two-dimensional images into a wearable three dimensions. Interestingly, Braque’s collaborator was known more as a lapidary than a goldsmith. They worked closely enough that Braque once referred to him as “the extension of my hands.”

The results were revealed to the public in “One hundred jewels by Georges Braque,” which opened at the Marsan Pavilion in Paris in March 1963, just five months before Braque died. More than 50,000 people attended and the French state purchased 11 pieces of jewelry.


Related posts:

Jewelry by famous artists (Picasso, Ernst, Braque)

Alexander Calder: going mobile

Salvador Dalí: bejeweled surrealism

Man Ray’s jewelry by Gem Montibello


6 comments for “Georges Braque: jewels in flight

  1. Sandy Bland
    November 25, 2012 at 10:04 am

    Thanks for your info on Bijoux de Braque ‘Georges Braque: Jewels in Flight’. Of great interest, as I have a set of beautiful prints of the Bijoux, given to my father by Zanders, who published them in 1979. I didn’t know a lot about the jewels themselves but the Braque designs converted into gold, embossed prints are stunning. As I can’t display them all, I am putting several up for auction on Ebay this week. If you or any followers are interested to see them, check out the listing of barcascb.

  2. Dee
    March 30, 2013 at 10:55 am

    Cathleen- thank you for sharing your enormous knowledge, I find your blog full of interesting articles and links!

    Sandy, I just acquired few of the prints you are talking about from a street seller,and treasure them for their beauty.
    I wanted to see your profile on eBay, but it seems to be visible only to friends. I just would like to know their “value” and maybe exchange the photos of them. Just find it fascinating!

  3. dennis
    July 22, 2014 at 7:21 pm

    i have the calendar bijoux de braque 1979 zandstra stil in the box.
    who have interest for this item ? and what can i do to sell it ?

    greetings robert

  4. July 22, 2014 at 8:52 pm

    Posting here is a good start, Robert. (Or is it Dennis?)

  5. dennis
    July 22, 2014 at 10:58 pm

    d,r but they call me robert its oficial dennis haha.
    and thnx for coment.
    hope i find some serius people for the george braqeu(and also in to gold 12 pieces)

    also art kane calender from zandstra in box i believe from 1980.
    for pictures take contact

    thank you dennis ,robert 😉

  6. marcia bennett
    November 29, 2014 at 11:30 pm

    I was just given about 12 boxes to do something with(I do flea markets in NYC) of red velvet framed glass shadow boxes?? Not sure what to call them….they are deep set and all of them have plaques that read “bijoux de G. BRAQUE so I see that he had a line of very good gold jewelry. Were these used to show display his jewelry or versions of his?
    Anyone know anything about them?
    On the side of one it says 166 Calais 5.000, thinking euros? some have hooks for hanging.

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