Magnificent Views?: Landscapes in Jewellery

Exhibition  /  23 Jul 2013  -  13 Oct 2013
Published: 26.05.2013

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Starting from symbolic hints in medieval depictions of saints to the idyllic backgrounds of antique scenes painted in the Baroque period, landscapes for a long time served merely as a backdrop. Now this familiar yet always novel genre is explored from both a historical and a contemporary angle.
“Magnificent Views? – Landscapes in Jewellery” and “Landscapes – a Matter of Perspectives” – these two exhibitions about the topic landscape will be shown by Pforzheim’s Jewellery Museum and the city’s Art Association.

Landscapes: we are surrounded by them, experience them, and they have an effect on us. We form a multitude of landscape images in our mind’s eye, and notions of landscapes typical of a certain era manifest themselves in a variety of media such as in movies, on postcards and holiday photos, in the form of cultured landscapes, nature reserves, parks or excursion destinations. In jewellery as well as in the fine arts, landscapes have evolved as an autonomous theme. The »Magnificent Views? – Landscapes in Jewellery« and »Landscapes, a Matter of Perspectives« exhibitions organized by Pforzheim’s Jewellery Museum and the city’s Art Association in the Reuchlinhaus building and on display from July 23 through October 13 explore this familiar yet always novel genre from both a historical and a contemporary angle.

Magnificent Views? – Landscapes in Jewellery

Landscapes – discovery and evolution
Landscapes first had to be discovered as an autonomous theme, and then were depicted only hesitantly – not only in paintings, but also in jewellery. Starting from symbolic hints in medieval depictions of saints to the idyllic backgrounds of antique scenes painted in the Baroque period, landscapes for a long time served merely as a backdrop.
The 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, when landscapes rich in details gradually evolved as the themes of paintings such as vedute, also marked the heyday of exquisite miniature enamel paintings and ivory carvings on brooches, lockets, pocket watch cases and dials serving as a keepsake of a Grand Tour, for example, an educational journey by members of the upper and middle classes.
Friendship and mourning jewellery created around 1800 was also enhanced with impressions of landscapes. Many pieces featured an »altar of friendship« or a grave with an urn flanked by a weeping willow, for example, and were often complemented by hair – in the Age of Sensibility, a new kind of importance was also attached to personal relationships.
Hunter’s jewellery, with true-to-life depictions of game in its natural environment, was also very popular. Depicting such scenes, carved ivory jewellery created in the Odenwald region was much sought after in the mid-19th century, and was even presented very successfully at the 1873 World Exhibition in Vienna.

Landscapes – venerated and endangered

With the advent of large-scale middle-class tourism in the Belle Époque period, »beautiful« landscapes were appreciated as a value in themselves for the first time. In the late 19th century, the pleasure of delightedly contemplating landscapes made people aware of the fact that their »natural« surroundings were endangered by industrialization. Famous Art Nouveau artists such as René Lalique, Georges Fouquet and Lluis Masriera created avant-garde jewellery masterpieces that captured the spirit of the Fin de Siècle period, featuring poetic depictions of plants entwining any form imaginable. Fauna and flora served as sources of inspiration for elegantly abstracted landscape images and ornaments. Water, abstractly depicted as waves, and the corresponding plants and animals, are frequently recurring motifs. Borrowing exotic stylistic elements from Japanese Art, what is called Japonism also became fashionable.

Landscapes – objets d’art and experiential environments
The advent of »Land Art« in the 1960s marked the definitive end of landscapes’ being merely decorative backdrops and their being elevated to the status of genuine art objects. This artistic movement drew attention to the close relationship between man and environment, as well as human intervention in the environment, and the concomitant structuring design processes.

Landscapes – can they still be saved?
Examples of contemporary art jewellery demonstrate that even a drab industrial landscape can pique an artist’s interest. The focus is usually on individual features such as mountain ranges or plant life, or on architecture and other attributes of civilization, serving as abstracted metaphors for certain places or moods, for memories or yearnings. The perception of landscapes and nature is reflected upon as an autonomous aesthetic experience, and the resultant creations testify to the artists’ in-depth involvement with nature and our environment in view of the changes they go through as a result of human intervention in our modern industrial era.


Welcome to the opening on Sunday, July 21, 3.30 p.m.

Opening Hours

Tue – Sun and holidays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (except for Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve)

Guided group tours
can be booked by phone: +49/(0)7231/39-2126.

An attractive overnight stay and museum visit package can be booked through WSP Tourismusmarketing/Tourist Information Centre (Phone: +49/(0)7231/39-3700,
Stephanie Jendis. Brooch: Black Forest, 2003. Wood, silver. Schmuckmuseum Pforzheim. Photo Petra Jaschke. Stephanie Jendis
Brooch: Black Forest, 2003
Wood, silver
Schmuckmuseum Pforzheim. Photo Petra Jaschke
© By the author. Read Copyright.
Lluis Masriera. Head Piece: Untitled, 1902. Gold, tortoiseshell, diamonds, sapphires, enamel. Lluis, MasrieraHead Piece: 1902Gold, tortoiseshell, diamonds, sapphires, enamelSchmuckmuseum Pforzheim. Photo Rüdiger Flöter. Lluis Masriera
Head Piece: Untitled, 1902
Gold, tortoiseshell, diamonds, sapphires, enamel

Lluis, Masriera
Head Piece: 1902
Gold, tortoiseshell, diamonds, sapphires, enamel
Schmuckmuseum Pforzheim. Photo Rüdiger Flöter
© By the author. Read Copyright.