The bird flies, flies away!

Apr 15, 2019

The École des Arts Joailliers, with the support of Van Cleef & Arpels, will soon be offering a beautiful exhibition entitled “Paradis d’oiseaux”, which will be held at the school’s premises on rue Danielle Casanova in Paris from 15 May to 13 July 2019. The programme includes two private collections and pieces from the house’s heritage collection.

oiseaux, van cleef arpels

Bird brooch by Sterlé, gold, platinum and diamonds, mother of pearl, obsidian. Private collection. Photo: Ecole des Arts Joailliers

oiseaux, van cleef arpels

Peacock brooch, Gustave Baugrand, circa 1865. Private collection. Gold, diamonds, fine pearl, sapphires, rubies, emeralds. Photo ©Studio Sébert photographes, Laurent Legendre

While birds have been an almost endless source of inspiration for jewellers since the 19th century, they have long been represented in other artistic disciplines such as painting and sculpture. These colourful animals, which have fascinated people since antiquity – and one cannot help but think of the famous myth of Icarus who escaped from the labyrinth thanks to wings made of feathers and wax – populate the imagination of writers and artists. For many, nothing is freer than a bird. It is also a philosophical creature, sometimes even magical, as it provides a link between the earth and the sky, symbolising a form of esoteric dialogue. Finally, with the taste for nature and science that developed during the 18th and 19th centuries (and the creation of the famous cabinets of curiosity), they were to be found in private collections as well as in museums. Moreover, the École des Arts Joailliers event will combine works from the Museum National d’Histoire Naturelle (MNHN), the Musée des Arts Décoratifs and the Musée National de la Céramique de Sèvres.

oiseaux, van cleef arpels

Bird brooch by Van Cleef & Arpels, yellow gold, platinum, sapphires, rubies, emeralds and diamonds. 1963, Van Cleef & Arpels Collection. Photo: Ecole des Arts Joailliers

oiseaux, van cleef arpels

Bird brooch by Sterlé, gold, platinum and diamonds. Private collection. Photo: Ecole des Arts Joailliers

For jewellers, representing the bird is above all a formidable exercise in style and allows for all kinds of aesthetic daring: flamboyant colours, poetic shapes, static or moving animals, craftsmen have always known how to sublimate it. If we know very beautiful examples from the 19th century, the 20th century was a period of great achievement.

oiseaux, van cleef arpels

Bird brooch. Platinum, diamonds, emeralds, feathers. Private collection. Photo: ©Studio Sébert photographes, Laurent Legendre

Broche Oiseau Collection privée ©Studio Sébert photographes, Laurent Legendre

Peacock brooch. Cartier, 1947. Platinum, gold, diamonds, rubies, emeralds, sapphires. Private collection. Photo: Ecole des Arts Joailliers

The marvellous birds of Pierre Sterlé, for example, are noteworthy. Although he made them for himself, he was also a designer for several houses, including Chaumet, for which he made sublime jewellery. But we must also mention the houses of Van Cleef & Arpels, Mellerio, not forgetting Boucheron, whose birds such as the swan, the hummingbird and – more recently – the titmouse populate the brand’s famous bestiary. It is impossible not to mention the House of Cartier, whose birds are inseparable from its history: the famous “bird in a cage” brooch from 1940, then a blue, white and red bird still in a cage as a symbol of resistance from 1942 and finally the “liberated bird” crying out in front of its cage and symbolising the liberation of Paris from 1945. The first brooch – that of 1940 – earned Jeanne Toussaint an arrest by the Gestapo and it was Coco Chanel’s intervention that enabled her to be freed. As for the manufacturers, apart from Sterlé, Gustave Baugrand and Rouvenat, Despres & Cie are of course worth mentioning. The adorable brooches created during the heyday of Mauboussin can also be added. This theme is almost inexhaustible!

Peacock brooch. Platinum, diamonds and enamel. Charles Mellerio, circa 1910. Private collection. Photo: © Studio Sébert photographes, Laurent Legendre

oiseaux, van cleef arpels

Bird brooch, 19th century, Private collection. Gold, silver, diamonds, rubies, emeralds. Photo: © Studio Sébert photographes, Laurent Legendre

So, to immerse yourself in an ocean of enamel feathers, diamonds, rubies, emeralds, sapphires and turquoises, there is only one solution: go to the École des Arts Joailliers from 15 May. And as Edmond Jealous wrote, “Fame is to glory what the Paris sparrow is to the bird of Paradise So, there is only one thing left to do, admire this bird’s paradise to find your own!

See you soon!

oiseaux, van cleef arpels

Clip Oiseau de Paradis. Van Cleef & Arpels, 1942. Yellow gold, sapphires, rubies, diamonds. Van Cleef & Arpels collection. Photo: Ecole des Arts Joailliers


From 15 May to 13 July 2019
Free admission from Monday to Saturday from 12pm to 7pm

31, rue Danielle Casanova, 75001 Paris


marie chabrol

Hello my name Is Marie. Speaker, consultant & teacher, I write with passion about the world of jewelry.

my ideal library

This is my ideal library. All these books are part of my own library and I always read them with great pleasure.