Jewellery, Watches and Objects of Vertu (15 June 2021)

Date of Auction: 15th June 2021


Estimate: £2,600 - £3,200

An Egyptian Revival gold and agate scarab fob, circa 1860, the gold scarab realistically modelled and with bead and ropetwist detailing to the base, the whole swivelling to reveal an enclosed nicolo intaglio, the agate carved in high relief to depict an Egyptian male standing kilted wearing the royal striped nemes headdress, a flowering lotus to the left foot and with further engraved hieroglyphics to the surround, mounted in gold, French assay marks, possible partial maker’s marks (misstruck and indistinct), cased by Phillips Bro’s & Son, 23 Cockspur Street, London, length 30mm. £2,600-£3,200


The 19th century fascination with Ancient Egypt, particularly in France, was sparked by the Napoleonic campaign in 1798. Approximately 160 scholars, scientists and artists accompanied Napoleon on an expedition that culminated in the discovery of the Rosetta Stone in 1799. The subsequent publication of various illustrated journals, namely the Description de l’Égypte, not only provided the foundations for modern day Egyptology but propelled the splendours of Ancient Egypt on to the world stage. The first Egyptian galleries opened at the Louvre in 1827 and it is during this period that the influence of Egyptian art and artefacts started to be seen in French design and décor. Egyptian-style jewellery became particularly popular during the 1860s, coinciding with the opening of the Suez Canal. The 1867 Exposition Universelle in Paris showcased the full extent of France’s fascination and featured a reconstructed temple complete with sphinxes and a triumphal arc. Lavish creations by Parisian jewellers Boucheron and Lemonnier featured alongside more archaeologically-inspired pieces, such as those by Emile Froment Meurice and Eugène Fontenay. Across Europe the influence can be detected in the fine gold works of Alessandro Castellani, Carlo Giuliano, Ernesto Pierret and Giacinto Melillo, amongst others. In England, the visit of the Prince of Wales to Egypt in 1862 coincided with the display of antiquities from Cairo at The International Exhibition in London. Here, jewellers known to have worked in the Egyptian taste include John Brogden, Robert Phillips, E. W. Streeter and T. & J. Bragg of Birmingham.