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Mauboussin in the Retro Period

Published on , by Caroline Legrand

Mauboussin the jeweler contributed to fashion in the 1940s with imposing pieces in gold and colored stones. An imagination that appeals more than ever in the auction room.

Mauboussin in the Retro Period

Mauboussin, c. 1940. Gold bracelet with stylized articulated geometric links, alternating with rectangles set with calibrated sapphires, signed "Mauboussin Paris".
Estimate: €20,000/30,000

Heir to his uncle Jean-Baptiste Noury, with whom he completed his apprenticeship in the Porte Saint-Martin workshops in Paris, Georges Mauboussin took over management of the famous French jewelry company in 1883, at a time when jewelry was undergoing a remarkably thriving revival. He led the company brilliantly through the Art Nouveau and Art Deco periods, opening branches around the world. The 1940s (the period of this gold and sapphire bracelet) saw an aesthetic change of direction after the 1937 Paris International Exhibition of Arts and Techniques in Modern Life, and then the outbreak of war. The rigor of Art Deco gave way to imaginative "retro" jewelry. Platinum (requisitioned by the army), onyx and diamonds were replaced by colored stones and gold. As this precious metal was still in short supply, the proportion of copper in an alloy was sometimes increased, producing a pinker gold than usual. The size of jewelry also increased—firstly because during this period of crisis, it was often worn alone and no longer as a set, and secondly because these creations became real sculptures. For example, in this bracelet, complex links make play with curves and openwork. The "Tank" ring and the birdcage-shaped brooch by Cartier are iconic pieces from this period.

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