During a twelve year period at the end of the 19th century the two French firms of Bapst and Falize entered into a partnership that resulted in some remarkable jewellery.
The Maison Bapst was founded during the second quarter of the 18th Century and enjoyed great success, acting as Crown Jewellers to the French court for many years. The firm re-designed the regalia of Napoleon I for Louis XVIII and made the insignia for the coronation of Charles X. They created spectacular parures of Royal jewels set with magnificent coloured gemstones and diamonds for many successive Empresses as well as altering and re-making existing jewels to bring them in line with current fashions.
The house of Falize was founded in 1838 and by the time they exhibited at Paris’ Exposition Universelle in 1878 had built a strong reputation for original designs and meticulous craftsmanship. Like his father before him, Lucien Falize was much inspired by past eras, particularly the Renaissance as well as being strongly influenced by Japanese art and culture. His stunning display was awarded one of only three Grand Prix (the others going to Boucheron and Massin) as well as the Legion d’Honneur.
This large and prestigious fair brought the firm to the attention of a wider audience than ever before and it was shortly after this success that Lucien was approached by Germain Bapst with the idea of joining their firms together. The benefits to both parties seemed clear and in 1880 the new partnership was formalised. They enjoyed a period of great success, the weight of Bapst’s royal history and long standing clientele marrying well with the current popularity of Falize’s work. In 1882 they moved from Avenue de l’Opera into new premises at 6, rue d’Antin that had been purpose built for them to accommodate a splendid showroom as well as workshops and offices.
The business was very successful and produced a wide range of beautiful jewellery including pieces that carried the undeniable style of Falize alongside more traditional pieces such as diamond and pearl set brooch/ pendants. Their mark consisted of the letters B and F accompanied by a ring with a pearl drop which they sometimes employed as a decorative motif within the enamel decoration of their jewels. In addition to jewellery they created many decorative works in silver such as candelabras, table centre-pieces and clocks. Alongside running the business Lucien travelled widely and often reported on the exhibitions and events he visited in a series of scholarly articles which, along with the transcripts of his popular lectures, were often quoted as authoritative works. Bapst was also very involved in academia and it was ultimately this that brought an end to the partnership.
Germain Bapst and Lucien Falize dissolved their joint venture amicably in 1892 with Bapst choosing to dedicate himself solely to the pursuit of academic research and his scholarly ambitions. Falize continued running the business under his own name until his death in 1897 when it passed to his three sons.