- Mouillefarine, Laurence and Évelyne Possémé, eds. Art Deco Jewelry: Modernist Masterworks and their Makers. London: Thames & Hudson, Ltd., 2009, p. 135.
- Bijoux Art Déco et Avant-Garde – Jean Després et les bijoutiers modernes, Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris, March 19—June 12, 2009
Jean Dunand was one of the foremost artists of the Art Deco period. In 1904, he opened a studio in Paris, and the following year began creating sculpture, furniture, and metalware. In 1912, he learned to work with lacquer, opening several shops that specialized in creating decorative arts with this material. He began to apply his skill to making jewelry in the mid 1920s. He continued working until his death on June 7, 1948.
Jean Dunand began his studies as a sculptor and later became a cabinetmaker, interior designer, metalworker and lacquer artist. He made jewelry only for his wife up until he was discovered by milliner Madame Agnès at the 1925 exhibition where he showcased some lacquer dyed cloth he had made into dresses, shawls, and hats. Madame Agnès became his greatest client and he decorated her salon with his bold geometric designs, which caught the eye of her wealthy clientele. Dunand began creating accessories for Jeanne Lavin, Elsa Schiaparelli and Josephine Baker. Inspired by designs from Africa, he created sculptural cuff bracelets, necklaces, shoe and belt buckles, and many more objects all in lacquered metals with abstract designs.
For this bracelet, Dunand created a balance of abstract forms integrated with a simple color palette, all connected by undulating gilt metal waves. The bracelet is composed of slightly curved rectangular segments applied with geometric shapes of gilt metal, nickel-platting, and red and black lacquer. Dunand discovered lacquer while studying Japanese bronzes and became interested in the smooth glossy surface. Dunand made contact with the Japanese lacquer artist Seizo Sugawara and learned from him, adapting the use of lacquer in all his work. He found use for the material on various surfaces including metal and fabric.
Dunand entered the world of jewelry design through fashion and specialized in the technique of dinanderie, copper and brasswear art, incorporating it with lacquerwork. Edmond de Campagnac described his art: “Without being preoccupied by portraying a subject, the artist explores lines and planes like a musician playing with sounds and silences.” Dunand’s use of minimal geometric forms and colors in this bracelet skillfully plays with the negative space of various gilded metals. His work is sought after today and represents a small group of artist jewelers from the Art Deco movement who focused on design instead of precious materials. This bracelet comes directly from the Dunand family collection and is a rare example of iconic work by an immensely talented artist.