I first saw this brooch on my ‘The Met’ calendar which William gives me each Christmas. Each day of the year the calendar shows a different object from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. I love having something new and interesting to look at each day. I was so captivated by the mask when it came up a few years ago I did some digging and found I could buy a reproduction version from the museum shop. The postage was rather hefty but I wasn’t disappointed with the brooch when it arrived. I’m though rather glad my version of the mask isn’t as large as the original that measures 9” long and 3 ¾” wide. I do like large statement jewellery but there are limits to the proportions even I will wear. On the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s website they do say the piece was “probably intended to be a tour-de-force exhibition piece; its weight easily would have torn, or at least compromised, the drape of a delicate dress fabric.” My version is only 4” long and 2” wide, it also has a pair of earrings which are miniature versions of those the mask is wearing.
George Fouquet took over the Paris jewellery firm in 1895, established by his father in 1860. George brought a modern spirit to the firm, embracing styles such as the Art Deco. The original mask was made of jade, onyx and diamonds on platinum with highlights in enamel. I hope it will be on display when I visit New York this month.