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Brooch
  • Brooch
    Ashbee, Charles Robert, born 1863 - died 1942
  • Enlarge image

Brooch

  • Place of origin:

    London (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1900 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Ashbee, Charles Robert, born 1863 - died 1942 (designer)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Silver and gold with blister pearl, garnet and brilliant-cut diamond

  • Credit Line:

    Accepted by HM Government in Lieu of Inheritance Tax and allocated to the Victoria and Albert Museum, 2005

  • Museum number:

    M.31-2005

  • Gallery location:

    Jewellery, Rooms 91, The William and Judith Bollinger Gallery, case 55, shelf B, box 1

Charles Robert Ashbee (1863-1942) was a man of immense talents and energy and a defining figure in the Arts and Crafts Movement. In 1888 he founded the Guild of Handicraft in Whitechapel in the East End of London with the intention of reviving traditional craft skills and providing satisfying employment in a deprived area of the city. The Guild moved to Chipping Camden in the Cotswolds in 1902 with the aim of setting up a community integrating creative work with everyday life. The Guild went into liquidation in 1907 but many of the Guildsmen and their families stayed on and continued to work in the area.

Ashbee trained originally as an architect but he is also known also for his highly innovative furniture, metalwork, silver and jewellery designs.

The peacock was one of Ashbee's favourite and most distinctive motifs and he is known to have designed about a dozen peacock jewels in the years around 1900, including a necklace also in the V&A collection (M.23-1965). Family tradition stated that this brooch was designed for his wife, Janet. It was made by Ashbee's Guild of Handicraft Ltd. at Essex House on the Mile End Road, London.

Physical description

Brooch in the form of a peacock, its blister pearl and diamond-set tail rising in a 'V' behind its body which is also set with a blister pearl. It has a garnet eye and the crest on its head is of diamonds. The bird stands on a spherical pearl, above a brilliant-cut diamond and blister pearl drop.

Place of Origin

London (made)

Date

ca. 1900 (made)

Artist/maker

Ashbee, Charles Robert, born 1863 - died 1942 (designer)

Materials and Techniques

Silver and gold with blister pearl, garnet and brilliant-cut diamond

Dimensions

Height: 13.5 cm, Width: 6 cm

Object history note

The peacock was one of Ashbee's favourite and most distinctive motifs and he is known to have designed about a dozen peacock jewels in the years around 1900. However, its provenance and design endow this peacock with a particular significance. Alan Crawford (in 'C.R. Ashbee. Architect, Designer & Romantic Socialist' pp. 359-363) quotes family papers which reveal that on 15 November 1899 Cyril Kelsey, a guild apprentice, wrote to Janet Ashbee that 'Brook [one of the Guild's jewellers] has not started on your peacocks yet, no chance till after Christmas'. Four months later, on 22 March 1900 Ashbee wrote to his wife 'Your peacock is finished. He is at the present moment pinned on my coat and is preening his tail and looking at himself with his ruby eye'. Ashbee states that Janet's father was paying for the peacock. Family tradition is that this particular peacock is the one that is described. It was in Janet's possession until late in her life, and then passed to her daughter. Margaret Flower, writing in 1951 when her information could have come directly from Janet who lived until 1961, stated that it had been made by 'Gebardt', who can be identified from Guild records as Adolf Gebardt. Two almost identical designs by Ashbee for the brooch-pendant are in Chelsea Public Library.

Descriptive line

Pendant-brooch in the form of a peacock, designed by C.R. Ashbee and made by the Guild of Handicraft, ca 1900.

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Jervis, Simon, Victorian and Edwardian decorative art: the Handley-Read collection, London, Royal Academy of Arts, 1972
cat. 78, p68
MacCarthy, Fiona. Anarchy & beauty : William Morris and his legacy, 1860-1960. London: National Portrait Gallery, 2014

Materials

Silver; Gold; Pearls; Diamonds; Garnet

Subjects depicted

Peacocks

Categories

Jewellery; Metalwork; Europeana Fashion Project

Collection

Metalwork Collection

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