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Victor Gérard created beautifully crafted and imaginative jewels from his workshop overlooking Paris’s Palais Royal.
Victor Gérard was a French jeweller and goldsmith working in Paris from the turn of the century for a period of about 30 years. He registered his makers mark with the assay office on February 18th 1899, it consisted of his initials V.G. either side of a pair of crossed hammers within the regulation lozenge shaped outline. He set up his workshop at 42, Boulevard de Sébastopol but would later move it to the Rue de Richelieu opposite the Palais Royal and not far from the heart of French jewellery, the Rue de la Paix and Place Vendome.
He created jewels of fine quality including gem set rings and beautifully decorative enamel pendants. One such piece depicts a flight of enamel swallows swooping through a plique- à-jour enamel sky, with the largest one realistically modelled in three dimensions and applied to the front of the piece, overlapping the frame so as to appear as if flying out of it. The piece is sculpted in 18ct yellow gold and interestingly the reverse features the same birds as the front this time in plain engraved gold, mirroring their position with the exception of the largest one.
It is thought that he created pieces primarily for other firms to retail rather than sell his work under his own name. One such retailer that we know about was Louchet, run by brothers Paul and Albert Louchet who were primarily sculptors but who frequently collaborated with other artists as well as retailing their work. They regularly exhibited at the Salon des Artistes Français and are referred to by Henri Vever in his work on 19th Century French jewellery as a “distinguished” firm with “charming jewelry of modern inspiration”. Vever could easily be describing jewellery like the swallow pendant by Gérard discussed earlier which we know was sold by Louchet from their shop on the Rue Auber, as attested to by the printing on the silk lining of its fitted case.
Little is known of Gérard’s personal life, however this is not uncommon for French craftsmen of this period. Whilst the quality of their work would suggest a prolific output and consequently raised profile, the quantity of pieces that survive and the scant information available would seem to indicate otherwise. It is of course possible that much of his work was marked by the firms he created for rather than with his own mark, however we can only speculate on this. What we do know is that in recent years his work has been exhibited in museums and is currently held in one of the most extensive private collections of Art Nouveau jewellery in the world.