BETWEEN NATURE AND ORNAMENT. GIOVANNI ONORATO’S FUSCHIA EARRINGS.
|Giovanni Onorato, Fuschia earrings © Muri's Gallery|
Jewellery has always been one of very important elements of culture. From the very beginning besides being just a decoration, it had a significant, often symbolical or religious meaning. With time it also became a real work of art which combined precious stones with artistic design and this role determined modern way of its reception.
Giovanni Onorato (born 1938) was a well-known Italian jeweller, who is now a bit forgotten. Having premises in famous via della Spiga (Milan), he lived for designing extraordinary pieces of jewellery. Taking much from his background – his family specialized in coral’s trading – through his own company trading with pearls – to designing in 1970s and 1980s many pieces of recognisable, elegant and fancy jewellery. His past works are very collectible and they can be found only in specialised jewellery shops like at Fred Leighton in New York or Muri’s Gallery in Lugano (Switzerland). Through his artistic life he tries to realise one dream – to create the absolute work of art. Because of the mastery of his realisations, always perfectly crafted, with an artistic touch and visionary, combining semi-precious materials with gold and diamonds – always of the best quality – his works are often called Oggetti per passione. And that is exactly what they are.
The Fuschia Earrings were made in 1977 in Milan. Designed by Onorato and executed by Milanese goldsmith Romolo Grassi – one of the greatest creators of his times, who carried out designer’s projects, turning them into precious stones, metal and enamel. Some of his most significant works are nowadays conserved in the Headley-Whitney Museum in Lexington, Kentucky.
|Giovanni Onorato, Fuschia earrings (back) © Muri's Gallery|
The Fuschia Earrings are made of yellow gold, translucent fired enamel, diamonds and turmalines (measurements: 5,5 x 14,7 x 3,6 cm, total weight: 77,5 g). Fuschia flowers exemplify naturalism in realistic and spatially waved leaves and petals and as well in different textures of all used materials that imitate the texture of different parts of flower, even in delicate translucence of green enamel transferring the natural effect of day-light on leaves. The highest mastery is in the uninterrupted linearity of the stems, subtle forms of the flower leaves finished with a fine work of chisel. The fine metalwork is filled with translucent enamel of natural colours. All these elements bring naturalism to these two pieces of art.
In general, two ways of artistic expression – naturalism and styled “ornamentalisation” – were always two antagonistic styles in history of art and history of jewellery design. In modern jewellery floral motifs have been always present – in different times it took different styled form. Sometimes nature forms were a subject of the work, sometimes they took only a role of the styled object – transformed, decorative and set with precious materials which were of more importance than the model from nature.
In Napoleon times it took a stylised costume, reduced to role of precious stones. The second half of 19th century brought poetical naturalism into designs which finalised with nature stylised curved lines of Art-Nouveau. Art-déco looked for new ways of artistic expression translated into geometric forms, which were influenced by Indian art (the main role played Cartiers’ and their geometrical tutti-frutti and gardinetto (not so well known styles – just to mention and not focus on these styles in the article). To finish with 1960s designs – full of power and strength in design creating a new quality in jewellery.
|Empress Josephine tiara's |
(foto from: http://www.pinterest.com/pin/183169909817976264/)
|Necklace with natural pearls © Victoria and Albert Museum, London.|
The beginning of the 20th century started with blooming of many separated, artistic manners and individualities. Famous jewellery designers were also great painters or sculptors, who dreamt about creating a perfect and complete works of art. Two main tendencies occurred and rose simultaneously – decorative – reducing forms from nature to only a sign, looking for new ways of expression – and in contrast to that – naturalistic which continued the artistic focus on realistic trends.
The Art-Nouveau changed the way of poetically interpreting elements from nature. This decorative, curvilinear style takes as much from nature as possible but then transforms it into stylised, flat ornament where the flower is merely a pretext to show the mastery of designer and jeweller. The Anémones sur bois by René Lalique (1860-1945), pendant created ca. 1900 is a great example of this tendency. The technique is very similar to this used later by Onorato – gold, diamonds and green enamel. Lalique pioneered the technique of enamel ‘plique-à-jour’
|René Lalique, Anémones des bois © BRAFA 2010|
|Peter Carl Fabergé © 2012, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II RCIN 4050|
|David Webb, Frog bracelet © Muri's Gallery|
With all his masterpieces Giovanni Onorato can be without a doubt called one of the most important jewellery designers of his age. From a very beginning he took much either from the jewellery heritage of many centuries and from his private background to develop delicate and subtle style, which combines seemingly separated ornamental and naturalistic forms into one brand new style.
Each of his works was crafted with passion, and, as the Fuschia earrings, was created only in one piece – always with best quality of all – artistic and technical – elements. These multidimensional, idealised objects are actually total works of art – precious materials are elements to make a naturalistic effect: bright stones of vivid colours, enamel done with a great mastery and the waving shapes of leaves. Moreover, even if they are designed in naturalistic style, still they stay decorative, the same way Fouquet’s works do. The artist took much from historical styles – his works were influenced by paintings by Sandro Botticelli (Primavera), posters and jewellery designes by Alphonse Mucha (Princess Hyacinth) – in waving lines of the branches, delicate shapes of flowers, but also there is much from the jewellery of great masters such as: Lalique, Fouquet (similar technique, using translucid enamel), Peter Carl Fabergé (realism of the composition), David Webb (strenght of subject typical for 1960). But yet those two artists – Onorato and Grassi – developed their own language of jewellery expression, naturalistic and decorative in the same time, language of historical heritage, improved technique skills and individual vision of great artists – all these elements combined to create objects of real passion.