provenance: Acquired by Calouste Gulbenkian from René Lalique in 1904.
description: The body of this beautiful diadem consists of two orchids in horn and one in ivory, while a small drop-shaped topaz appears in the centre of the ivory flower. The three-pronged comb is also in horn and connected to the diadem by a gold hinge.
Lalique first exhibited a bracelet made of horn at the 1896 Salon. Following its success, he continued to produce jewels in horn and ivory during the following years.
The exotic orchid was one of the flowers that symbolised the aesthetic movement of the late nineteenth century. Art Nouveau jewellers handled the subject with great realism, which is heightened in this case by René Lalique’s technical mastery. He started from the real flower yet managed to imbue it simultaneously with elegance and a powerful erotic charge.