The Feel of the City – Jewellery from Centres of this World

Exhibition  /  09 Jul 2015  -  01 Nov 2015
Published: 17.04.2015


Metropolitan life and trade has brought new ideas, techniques and materials and thus influenced the cultural and commercial life. Its significance to the concept of jewellery is summarised in this exhibition.

The Feel of the City – Jewellery from Centres of this World.
Schmuckmuseum Pforzheim
Jahnstraße 42
75173 -  Pforzheim
+49 (0) 7231 39 2970
Isabel Schmidt-Mappes
Attributed to Pere Juan Poch. Pendant: Untitled, Vienna, about 1580–1587. Gold, diamonds, rubies, enamel. Photo by: Günther Meyer. Part of: Schmuckmuseum Pforzheim. Attributed to Pere Juan Poch
Pendant: Untitled, Vienna, about 1580–1587
Gold, diamonds, rubies, enamel
Photo by: Günther Meyer
Part of: Schmuckmuseum Pforzheim
© By the author. Read Copyright.

 Adorning the body has ever since been a way of expressing status and was subject to etiquette, the focus of this exhibition nevertheless is the importance of the city of artistic fabrication and shift in perception of jewellery. Works from throughout the centuries are presented, outlining the changes in social and commercial life as well as the influence of intercultural exchange.
They’re exquisite, exciting and exhilarating: jewellery creations from the world’s metropolises all have that certain something about them. Ladies of society didn’t wear diamonds before, and pearls not after five o’clock. Those who were invited for tea needed the appropriate jewellery. However, it was not only in London that women adorned their décolletés, arms or fingers with spectacular pieces, but also in Paris. Some jewellery can only be created — and worn — in big cities, which will be conveyed as the central message of this exhibition. It will be showcasing objects dating from classical antiquity until well into the 20th century, spotlighting the centres of bygone epochs, such as Pompeii, Rome, Byzantium and Constantinople, as well as the big trading cities of early modern times, starting from Florence via Paris and Augsburg to the Hamburg and Berlin of the 1920s.

One example of such precious urban jewellery from the ancient world is a golden bracelet crafted in Pompeii in the 1st century CE. An elaborately crafted parrot pendant, presumptively created in Augsburg, exemplifies urban jewellery production in the Renaissance — after increasing numbers of artisans had settled in the city during the Middle Ages to gain freedom from serfdom under the »Urban air makes you free« law. In the Baroque period, entire cities were designed with a focus on their palaces — the centres of both politics and society, as well as court life in the era of absolute monarchy. Jewellery was often the »admission ticket« that opened the doors to life at court. In the early 20th century, avant-garde Art Nouveau jewellery was being flaunted in variety shows and theatres. Rock crystal was very much en vogue in the Art Deco period, and combined, for example, with sapphires and diamonds set in platinum. Representing a new attitude towards life, the »New Objectivity« movement found its way into many artistic genres.

Famous goldsmiths and jewellers worked in the big cities, travelled from Florence to London or Naples, were inspired by the metropolises’ atmosphere and shared their ideas and experiences. Whether timelessly elegant, elaborately crafted, opulent or unobtrusive, all the exhibits testify to a superlative virtuosity and creativity that can only evolve in a pulsating, vibrant metropolis. Visitors can look forward to an exciting journey through the eras and important centres of this world that went down in jewellery history.

An eponymous catalogue will be published to accompany the exhibition.


Opening:  Thursday, 9 July 2015, 7 pm

Opening hours: Tuesday-Sunday and holidays from 10 am-5 pm

René Lalique. Brooch: Untitled, Paris, about 1902. Gold, glass, aquamarines, diamonds. Photo by: Günther Meyer. Part of: VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2015. Published at: Schmuckmuseum Pforzheim. René Lalique
Brooch: Untitled, Paris, about 1902
Gold, glass, aquamarines, diamonds
Photo by: Günther Meyer
Part of: VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2015
Published at: Schmuckmuseum Pforzheim
© By the author. Read Copyright.
Cartier. Brooch: Clip-brooches, London, about 1935/40. Gold, topaz. Photo by: Rüdiger Flöter. Part of: Schmuckmuseum Pforzheim. Cartier
Brooch: Clip-brooches, London, about 1935/40
Gold, topaz
Photo by: Rüdiger Flöter
Part of: Schmuckmuseum Pforzheim
© By the author. Read Copyright.