A rock crystal and gem-set "Orange Tree" brooch, by Cartier,
Lot 183
A rock crystal and gem-set "Orange Tree" brooch,
by Cartier, 1914
Sold for £40,000 (US$ 54,272) inc. premium

Fine Jewellery

30 Apr 2014, 14:00 BST

London, New Bond Street

Lot Details
A rock crystal and gem-set "Orange Tree" brooch, by Cartier,
A rock crystal and gem-set "Orange Tree" brooch, by Cartier, 1914
The umbrella-shaped miniature orange tree rendered in frosted rock crystal, backed in green foil, enhanced by foliate engraving, with three cabochon ruby "fruits", the buff-top calibré-cut citrine trunk with cabochon emerald foliage at its base, in a shaped-onyx, old brilliant and single-cut diamond pot with opposing stylised bird-head handles and circular onyx castors, diamonds approximately 1.00 carat total, signed Cartier, numbered, partially-struck maker's marks, French assay marks, length 3.3cm, maker's pouch


  • Provenance
    Gifted to Elizabeth Corbett on her wedding day in 1941 by Lady Jean Ward, granddaughter of Darius Ogden Mills, US financier and philanthropist and once the richest man in California.
    Direct descent to the present owner.

    This is a rare example of Cartier's "Orange Tree" design and was created by Cartier Paris in 1914. Although it is difficult to attribute surviving Cartier jewels to individual designers due to the firm's policy of anonymity, this small brooch, standing just 3.3cm high, incorporates a myriad of innovative design influences and technical innovations, all characteristic of Cartier's pioneering designer Charles Jacqueau (1885-1968). After joining the firm in 1909, Jacqueau guided Cartier away from the Garland Style, advocating bold colours in inventive, contemporary designs that would set it apart from its competitors artistically. Jacqueau borrowed liberally from other cultures in his design repertoire; motifs from Egyptian, Assyrian, Persian, Indian, Islamic, Japanese, Greek and Chinese civilizations were all thrown into the melting pot. His sketches from nature in the Jardins des Plantes were translated into miniature gemstone plants, earning him the nickname "Jacqueau la Fleur". Jacqueau regularly visited the Louvre and drew inspiration from the exhibits there; perhaps the painting "Madonna della Vittoria" (1495), depicting Saint Elizabeth and the little Saint John under lemon and orange trees on which birds perch, helped to inspire the "Orange Tree" line.

    One of Cartier Paris' earliest "Orange Tree" brooches was made in 1913; it is similar to this example in being of two-dimensional, highly stylised form incorporating birds' head motifs, but here the similarity ends. Whereas the 1913 brooch is monochromatic, almost entirely set with white diamonds offset by a few onyx highlights, this brooch, made a year later, bursts with colour combinations and different shapes and cuts of gemstone. 1913 was a pivotal year for Cartier: Jacqueau's obsession with the bright colours in Diaghilev's Ballet Russes had reached its zenith - Nadelhoffer notes how his colleagues in the design studio playfully drew caricatures of him dressed as Isadora Duncan in billowing robes - allowing the firm to finally break free from the constraints of the Garland Style. In November 1913, Cartier showcased fifty new jewelled creations at their New York premises, which they described as "from the Hindoo, Persian, Arab, Russian and Chinese". This "Orange Tree" brooch of 1914 clearly demonstrates the new influences at play in its use of gemstones of different shape, colour, cut and texture, from the carved rock crystal applied over a green foil, to the buff-top calibré-cut citrines, and the use of shaped onyx, which had been introduced into Cartier's designs from 1910, and which lent structure and contrast to so many of its Art Deco pieces. In addition, the brooch displays the maker's mark of Henri Picq, Cartier's main workshop supplier between 1900 and 1918, renowned for their high-quality platinum and who would later execute many of the "Tutti Frutti" pieces of which the brooch is surely a very early forerunner.

    See Hans Nadelhoffer "Cartier Extraordinary", Thames & Hudson, 1984, black and white photograph No 109, a similar orange tree brooch, 1913, by Cartier Paris. See also plate 11, an "orange tree" hatpin in carved rock crystal with onyx and diamond fruits, dated 1926.
Auction information

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Lot symbols
Item contains ruby or jadeite

Please note that as a result of recent legislation ruby and jadeite gem stones of Burmese (Myanmar) origin may not be imported into the US. Rubies and jadeite of non-Burmese origin require certification before import into the US.

  1. Emily Barber
    Specialist - Jewellery
    101 New Bond Street
    London, United Kingdom W1S 1SR
    Work +44 20 7468 8284
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