es to work of a new or experimental character. Under such few ef the
mas ters as are encouraging them to depart from the beaten track, they
are already adapting themselves to work which, ten years ago, would
have been declined by them as the province of specialists abroad.
am proud, as an Englishman, to say of the applications which are before
you now, that they are initially conceived and carried out at home, and
that sounder and better work could not be produced.
said, on behalf of my workmen, that which I am entitled to say, I beg
leave to abandon to your competent judgment the outcome of my
conceptions. It is deeply to be. regretted, notwithstanding our
advanced appliances in all branches of these trades, that whereas
unlimited amounts of money are forthcoming for the purchase and
preservation of the goldsmiths' work of the cherished centuries, not
even an attenuated proportion of the sums so expended is now applied
in pure encouragement of art in gold.
pleasing exception, whether as a result of trade depression, or the
apathy of art patrons, is to receive the commission to execute a fine
work of art in gold, of the jewelled and enamelled type, such as might
be considered a diploma, and one of the monuments of a house subsisting
as we all do upon reputations and skill. The purchaser of these days
desires apparently to limit his acquisitions to such articles as may,
by the enterprise of certain masters, be found in a state of readiness.
Artistically speaking, this is as unfortunate for the buyer as the
goldsmith, feeling himself not only cramped in the field of his
invention by the dearth of commissions, but seriously hampered by the
capricious tyranny of fashion, naturally only provides such articles as
in his judgment, good or bad, are likely to fme ready purchasers.
is the reflection that the destiny of the goldsmith, both here and with
our cultured neighbours of France, should be swayed by the fashions of
a con-spiracy of modistes, whose distorted conception of female
adornment, by common consent, is allowed to sit in judgment upon a
nobler and more enduring art. It is true that exaggeration of the size
of jewelled ornaments has departed, I hope for ever; but, as a
consequence of the modiste's veto, we are threatened, for the
present, with the absolute eradication of jewels from female adornment.
Indeed, the proportions of such ornaments as are to-day admissible by
the strict regulation of fashion, are such as seriously to endanger the
proper expression of art.
staple articles of present adornment are the brooch and the armlet,
reduced, if one would slavishly comply with the dictates of fashion, to
such meagre limits, that a fair opportunity is not afforded the
designer of expressing either the style or detail of his art.
Earrings, for example, after thousands of years of unquestioned
popularity, are menaced with nothing short of extinction. It is not an
exaggeration to assert that there is not a single tradition of all the
beautiful earrings, whether of Greek, Ktruscan, Roman, or Renaissance
origin, which can be reproduced in its entirety with any hope of
better judgment, the goldsmith is compelled to trifle with his art by
adopting, here and there, a section of the whole, so as to squeeze a
semblance of the reality into the pitilessly small space allowed him.
Bracelets of nearly all the antique types are at a proportionate
disadvantage. But the despair. of the artist reached its climax when
the pendant was, for many years, ostracised by fashionable society. The
graceful pendant, the veritable type of the goldsmiths' Renaissance,
however often we may be forced to make a brooch of it, remains a
pendant still. Happier days, at last, seem to be dawning for this most
consistent jewel, now again reasserting its empire. Once more may the
treasures of tradition be safely consulted, both the noble cap jewels
and pendants of the Medicis or Valois, and the valuable legacies of
Holbein, Zucchero, and Jehannet, those faithful translators of the
goldsmith's skill. I have taken refuge in the royal and knightly
collars of the Renaissance, wherein the grandeur of reposing art
reflects much beauty upon imperfect gems.