Musée d'Orsay: Lucien Gaillard Hawthorn

Lucien Gaillard

Lucien Gaillard (1861-1942)
Between 1902 and 1904
Carved horn, gold, mother-of-pearl and diamonds
H. 1.47; W. 9.5 cm
© DR - RMN-Grand Palais (Musée d'Orsay) / Michèle Bellot

Aubépines [Hawthorn]

Although he is now less well-known than Lalique, Vever and Fouquet, Lucien Gaillard was one of the greatest jewellery designers of his time. This relative oblivion can be explained by the fact that his original production that was briefer and less spectacular than that of his more famous fellow craftsmen.

Gaillard excelled in the use of horn. This choice puts him in the lineage of Lalique who was the first to prefer horn to the traditional tortoiseshell.
This comb illustrates the artist's pronounced taste for humble plant species. In his work there are no human figures, or combinations of motifs taken from flora and fauna. Nor are women's faces and bodies entwined with vegetable arabesques. A single motif is sufficient for each piece of jewellery.

He applied the lessons of Japanese art to his studies. The hawthorn leaves and blossom are seen globally, with only their general characteristics. They are naturalistic but not cluttered with superfluous detail and the sparing design enhances the material.
Here, the horn triumphs in the broad, spreading leaves and thorny stems. The beauty of the material, the quality of the sculpture and the chiselling and the refinement of the patina suffice in themselves. The precious materials, the mother-of-pearl of the petals and the diamonds of the stamens, are used with exemplary restraint.
Yet Gaillard's technique also lends itself to poetic touches. A few flakes of gold, slightly bronzed, suggest the first reddish tinge on the leaves doomed to die.

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