- Mouillefarine, Laurence, and Véronique Ristelhueber. Raymond Templier: La bijou moderne. Paris: Norma Éditions, 2005, p. 227.
- cf. Raulet, Sylvie. Art Deco Jewelry. New York: Rizzoli, 1985, p. 278.
Modernist jeweler, Raymond Templier, is known for his geometric compositions, which drew inspiration from modern technology. Templier said, “When I walk through the streets, I see ideas for jewelry everywhere—wheels, cars, the machines of today, I am ready to respond to all of them.” Born into a dynasty of Parisian jewelers—Maison Templier et Fils, founded by his grandfather in 1849—Templier joined the family business in 1922 and began creating his unusual jewels. He regularly participated in international exhibitions and was involved in the contemporary art movement in Paris, where he was a founding member of the UAM, Union des Artistes Modernes. In 1935, he took over the management of the firm, which remained opened until 1965.
Small, precious objects were a mark of sophistication in the Art Deco period. Boxes, desk clocks, vanity cases, and cigarette cases made in precious metals, set with gemstones and hardstones and richly enameled, ranked with the fine arts for design and workmanship. The most creative of these articles were analogous to the art of the era. In place of canvas and paint, designers worked in gold and silver with color provided by lacquer. A few designers, including Raymond Templier, Jean Dunand, and Gerard Sandoz, mastered an exacting technique known as coqaille d’oeuf, incorporating eggshells into lacquer for a textured white finish.
Templier drew inspiration from the rhythm and vitality of the city and machines around him. The floor of his study was strewn with sketches of geometric compositions of discs, lozenges, chevrons, and patterns in curved and straight lines. These drawings eventually evolved into finished designs for the covers of cigarette cases such as this one. In this box, the central motif features a geometrical configuration with fields of cream enamel layered over black lines and areas studded with eggshells. The design evokes the movement and parts of a machine, such as stamping feet and pistons.
Raymond Templier’s legacy of creating innovative jewelry and decorative art objects was acknowledged after his death in 1968 when the French publication Le Figaro summed up his achievements, “His works are of such undisputed quality that, even though they were thoroughly representative of our era, they will never go out of fashion.” This cigarette case and lighter epitomizes the design aesthetic of the Art Deco style and appeals to the discerning eye of the individual who only wants to collect the very best masterpieces.