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THE HERMITAGE
 

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The Hermitage has a considerable collection of jewellery, many pieces formerly in the possession of royal and aristocratic owners. The most important pieces are kept in the Special Collection, which contains items kept in the Gallery of Objets de vertu and Diamond Rooms of the Winter Palace in the 19th century, and also pieces acquired from nationalized collections in 1918. The remaining objects are dispersed among different exhibitions and storage spaces in the museum.

The small but highly valuable collection of Renaissance works is of great interest: among the rings, pendants and other works is a unique emerald pendant in the form of a caravel made by a Spanish jeweller in the last quarter of the 16th century.

A set of coral works made in the Sicilian town of Tapani dates to the 17th century. Italian jewellers made peculiar sculptures, cups and icons from copper, silver and bright vivid coral.

Most items in the Hermitage collection date from the 18th century: snuffboxes, patch boxes, toilet sets, watches, fans, perfume bottles, rings and other small and exquisite articles. French jewellers had an outstanding command of various materials and applied their virtuoso skills not only to gold and precious stones, but also tortoiseshell, mother-of-pearl and lacquer. Enamelling was particularly popular in the design of Genevan jewellery.

A characteristic feature of English jewellers is superb chasing - three-dimensional and elegant in design, with gentle transitions between surface planes; this technique is used with particular brilliance in a hand mirror (about 1760) which was a gift to the Russian Empress Elizabeth from the Turkish Sultan Osman III.

The quality of craftsmanship in the treatment of precious stones in English works of art was famous throughout Europe, although rivalled by the skills of German jewellers. Saxon items are easily distinguished by the peculiar brilliance of the stones used, mainly amethysts, agate and chalcedony.

The collection of 19th-century jewellery - including many toilet boxes, cigarette cases and ornamental clocks - is still being added to through purchases and gifts. Among the Art Nouveau objects are several works by the famous Rene Jules Lalique.


If you enjoyed this collection, you might want to also visit the other collections at the State Hermitage Museum.

Oriental jewellery
jewellery and Glytpics
Western European Coins


Hand Basin
Sicily, Trapani
1650s-1680s
Full description




Caravel Pendant
Spain
1580s-1590s
Full description




Swan Pendant
The Netherlands
1590s
Full description






Comb
France, Paris
1900-1902
Full description

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The Hermitage
 
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Related Links:
The official homepage of the State Hermitage Museum: www.hermitagemuseum.org

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