de Gary, Marie-Noël, et. al. Les Fouquet: Bijoutiers & Joailliers à Paris 1860–1960. Paris: Musée des Art Décoratifs, 1983, p 105.
Fouquet, Georges. La bijouterie, la joaillerie: La bijouteriede fantaisie au 20e siècle. Paris: Evreux, 1934, p. 186.
1925 Exposition internationale des Arts Décoratifs et industriels modernes, Paris (identical design)
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts has an identical necklace, (Gift of Sydney and Frances Lewis, 85.241)
Maison Fouquet was founded in Paris in 1862 by Alphonse Fouquet, who exhibited jewelry inspired by sphinxes and chimeras at the 1878 Exposition Universelle in Paris. In 1895, he was succeeded by his son, Georges, a designer and shrewd businessman respected among his peers and a commander of the Légion d’Honneur. At the turn of the century, graphic designer Alphonse Mucha created imaginative jewels for the company. Jean Fouquet joined the family firm in 1920, designing avant-garde jewelry based on rectilinear precepts. After the firm closed in February 1936, he worked on commissions for private clients.
After receiving a classical education, Georges Fouquet took over the well-known family jewelry business in Paris and established a reputation as one of the most inventive Art Nouveau designers for an increasingly select clientele including such notables as Sarah Bernhardt for whom he made original jewelry in association with the graphic artist, Alphonse Mucha, who also designed an elaborate store for Fouquet that is now on display at the Musée Carnavalet, Paris.
In 1919, he entered into partnership with his son, Jean, and soon began making bold jewelry in the Art Deco style. He had the foresight to collaborate with decorative artists and sculptors to create jewelry that was very different from what other jewelers were offering at the time. These relationships influenced his own creations, resulting in a simple, unadorned style with the focus on design. The author Émile Sedeyn stated, “He selects his gems as a painter chooses his colors. What is essential is that at a certain point his palette should provide him with the necessary harmony or brilliance.”
Fouquet was a designer who evolved with the times, and successfully transitioned from the exuberant Art Nouveau to the bold clean lines of Art Deco. He was fascinated by the translucent quality of the crystal. Sometimes, as on this sautoir, he would frost the surface to give an ethereal feeling to the gem material. The sautoir was the quintessential Jazz Age jewel complementing the long sleek silhouettes of the period. This necklace reflects the true Art Deco fashion with simple geometrical forms determining the design. Its three basic elements—beads, a ring, and a pear-shape pendant—are connected by delicate diamond pieces that add to the overall elegance without detracting from the principal geometric design. Fouquet exhibited a similar sautoir in his display at the 1925 Paris Exposition internationale des arts décoratifs et industriels modernes. This iconic sautoir embodies great Art Deco design and is a true testament to the design aesthetic and genius of Fouquet.