Lecture Programme 2013
This talk will feature some of the many medieval treasures found by the public in 2012, highlighting interesting finds reported under the Treasure Act and also finds recorded through the Portable Antiquities Scheme. Typical treasure finds include gold and silver finger rings, brooches, badges and pendants. The finds recorded by the Portable Antiquities Scheme, in contrast, include similar items in base metals, as well as a greater variety of object types, including everyday items, all with great potential to enlighten our understanding of life in the Middle Ages.
The “Brucke” painter Karl Schmidt-Rottluff - a prehistoric goldsmith
Karl Schmidt-Rottluff (1884-1976) is well-known as a major figure of the artists’ group "Die Brücke", which existed in Dresden and Berlin from 1905 to 1913 and exerted a major influence on German painting in the 20th century. From 1910 to 1959 Schmidt-Rottluff also created jewellery in various materials that followed the style of "Die Brücke". These were of irregular shape and surface, showed the vestiges of the technique employed, and were decorated with raw, unpolished stones. With his jewels Schmidt- Rottluff went against early 20th-century cultural conventions and tried to recapture the origins of primitive craft. One of the foremost recipients of Schmidt-Rottluff's jewels was Rosa Schapire, who donated her collection of Schmidt-Rottluff’s paintings and graphic work to the New Walk Museum and Art Gallery, Leicester. Her portrait by Schmidt-Rottluff, wearing one of his brooches, is kept in the Tate.
Further to the exhibition held at Wartski in 2011 entitled 'Japonisme: From Falize to Fabergé - The Goldsmith and Japan', Katherine Purcell will re-examine the influence of Japanese art on works created by Western jewellers and goldsmiths from the 1860s to the 1920s.
Sir John Boardman
Natter’s Museum Britannicum
The German engraver Lorenz Natter spent the years 1739 to 1761 in Britain. He was so impressed by its gem collections that he decided to publish an illustrated account of them to match Gori‘s Museum Florentinum of 1732. Unfortunately he was unable to raise the capital in Britain to translate his pencil drawings into engravings for publication. He left Britain for St Petersburg where he died in 1763 leaving his papers in the Hermitage Library. The Hermitage and the Beazley Archive in Oxford are now collaborating in a project to publish all Natter’s drawings, some 650 of them, and descriptions; at the same time attempting to identify the present whereabouts of the gems he drew. This is proving no easy task since most of the collections had been dispersed by the end of the 18th century.
Guilloche, the machines, techniques and products
‘Engine turning’ otherwise known as guilloche, is something for which the speaker has a deep and abiding passion. Although it is frequently referred to in books on jewellery and related products, the reference is usually limited to a simple comment such as "engine turned", with no further detail or information about how this frequently very beautiful and intriguing effect is achieved. The various types of machines will be illustrated along with descriptions of the techniques of use of each type. The presentation will focus on jewellery and related artefacts but will also cover some more unusual uses of the technique, and will include some comment on its practitioners.
The marriage of new and traditional technology in the making of a 21st-century Goldsmiths' Company commission
At a time when high street mass-produced, and even small, batch-produced, precious jewellery and smallware is created by rapid prototyping methods generated by computer-drawn designs we cannot deny the usefulness of these new programmes and methods, even in the developing of pieces that are highly hand-wrought using traditional skills. Ros Conway will start by giving some background on her enamelled jewellery and silversmithing work. She will then talk about the commissioning and making of a major piece for the Goldsmiths' Company, and the role played in its design by new technology combined with the ancient and intensive skills of enamelling.
Dr Chris Duffin
Medicinal gems : animals and antidotes
All manner of geological and zoological materials were believed to possess therapeutic properties; precious stones were administered to the great and the good in culinary as well as apothecarial preparations. Poisoning, whether by accident or intent, was a source of great concern and against which the natural world seemed to provide a plethora of potential antidotes. Bezoar stones preserved in gold filigree boxes, shark’s teeth hung on elaborate coral trees, fossil fish teeth mounted in medicinal rings, cakes of clay marked by a seal, ‘unicorn’ horn occasionally incorporated into pendants, and specially fabricated Goa stones, covered in gold leaf, are amongst the medicinal gems considered in this survey of aspiring, putative antidotes.
The scheduled lecture was postponed to 28 October 2014.
History of the bibliography of pearls and their use in jewellery.
Links to previous Lecture Programmes