Rare and Important Arts & Crafts Plique-a-jour Enamel and Gem-set Brooch, C.R. Ashbe executed by A. Gebhardt and W. Mark, c. 1902, the plique-a-jour shorebird on a grassy mound with topaz eye among bezel-set moonstones and flexibly-set freshwater pearls, gold and silver mount, 3 3/8 x 4 1/4 in., (with antique pin stem, evidence of prior comb findings).
Note: C.R. Ashbee, a Cambridge educated architect and designer, was a leader of the Arts & Crafts movement in Britain. Inspired by the ideas of Morris and Ruskin, Ashbee founded the Guild and School of Handicraft in 1888. By the turn of the century, Ashbee had achieved international fame for his work. A popular lecturer in America, Ashbee was an early admirer of the work of Frank Lloyd Wright.
Ashbee was a pioneer in the area of Arts & Crafts jewelry, and from his writings it is clear that he enjoyed gemstones more than any of the other materials in which he designed. The Guild, many of whose craftsmen were self-taught, began executing Ashbee's jewelry designs in the 1890s. Gradually, these designs became more ambitious, and Ashbee's grand and formal figural pieces, with their sophisticated enamel work, were among the most costly he produced. The extent of their achievement is shown here in the complex shading of the enamel as well as the illusion of a gravelly texture in the grassy mound on which the bird stands. This jewel represents a high point of Ashbee's accomplishments in the art of jewelrymaking.
The Studio, Volume 27, 1903, p.209. See above for illustration.
C.R. Ashbee: Architect Designer and Romantic Socialist, p. 368, figure XVIII, by Alan Crawford.
Exhibition of the Guild of Handicraft, Woodbury Gallery, London, 1902.
Seventh Arts & Crafts Society Exhibition, New Gallery, Regent Street, London, 1903.
From Slave to Siren, Duke University Museum of Art, Durham, North Carolina, Figure 28, Cat. no. 60, May 1971, curated by Dora Jane Janson.
The Pre-Raphaelite Era, 1848-1914, Delaware Art Museum, Wilmington, item 6:39, 1976.