Bourgeois Bling

Hallwyl Museum

Napoleon was crowned Emperor at Notre Dame in Paris in December 1804. The cathedral was illuminated by the glittering of thousands of diamonds, as can be seen in Jacques-Louis David’s painting of the event. Napoleon had given his marshals money so that they could buy lavish ornamental garnitures for their wives. Garnitures had been in use during the 18th century, but it wasn’t until now that having a whole set of jewellery with a coherent style of shape, colour and ornamentation became truly modern amongst the bourgeois class. Click on the pictures and then on ‘Details’ to read more about the Hallwyl Museum’s garnitures.

Garniture with gold topazes
This necklace belongs to one of Wilhelmina von Hallwyl’s most spectacular garnitures. This and the other of our garnitures that belonged to Wilhelmina and her mother, Johanna Kempe, are typical examples of the jewellery that was made during the early 19th century for the new, affluent bourgeoisie. The political and social situation had changed. Now it was no longer only the nobility that could wear garnitures, but also the ladies of the bourgeois class. Their jewellery often contained softer gemstones and less gold, which made them less expensive.

Click on an image and then on "details" for more information.

Genuine topaz is one of the hardest – and, therefore, finest – minerals on Earth, but the decorative gold topaz is really only an older name for what we now call Citrine.

The bracelet was given to Wilhelmina by her husband, Walther von Hallwyl, on Christmas Eve 1866. He also gave her the necklace to the right, for Christmas two years later.

Glittering diamonds
A necklace with pearls and Brazilian diamonds, together with a brooch in the same style, was given to Wilhelmina by her fiancé Walther on the day of the announcement of their engagement, 30th April 1865. Fifty-five years later, in 1920, Walther and Wilhelmina von Hallwyl donated their house at Hamngatan 4 in Stockholm to the Swedish state. The donation included the entire contents of the house, including two jewellery collections. One of these consists of collectors’ items whilst the other is the family’s personal jewellery. The diamond garniture is part of the personal collection.

Diamond is the most expensive of the Earth’s minerals and tops the Mohs scale of hardness. The harder the stone, the finer it is. Brilliant-cutting, became popular in the 18th century.

Male adornments
When the men of the bourgeois class began to use jewellery, the design was adapted to reflect their needs as business leaders and officials. Pocket watches, watchchains, breastpins and cuff links became very common adornments throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. The nobleman Walther von Hallwyl was originally a captain in the Swiss army before he took over his father-in-law’s company, Ljusne Woxna AB. He was given this breastpin by his wife as a Christmas gift in 1866.
Wilhelmina’s first garniture
This brooch is part of the first garniture owned by Wilhelmina. It was a gift from her parents on Christmas Eve 1862. It is made of gold with small oriental pearls and enamel. The set was purchased from a jeweller in Hamburg and lacks hallmarks. During the second half of the 18th century, laws were introduced that gave Sweden a unique standing in the world. Statutory hallmarks and stamps, such as the ‘cat’s foot’, year marking and the maker’s mark, guaranteed the authenticity of the piece. 

This bracelet rosette was first mounted on a wide gold bracelet. When the rosette became damaged, it was probably removed from the bracelet, which Wilhelmina continued to wear.

A lot of jewellery for the money
In 1846, the guild system was abolished, which had previously regulated who was able to work within certain trades. Industrialisation was picking up pace and new technologies had been invented. Measures to increase efficiency came to replace the knowledge-based traditions. Now, jewellery was being made in the largest quantities possible, with the minimum amount of gold. Gold was being rolled out to form large sheets which were then pressed and moulded into shape or stretched out into long threads. Johanna Kempe had just such a garniture of gold with two brooches and a pair of earrings. The brooches – one large and one small – were given separately to Johanna by her husband in 1853 and 1854. The smaller brooch has a broken clasp, which indicates that it was perhaps worn as a kind of pendant. The brooches consist of a knotted round moulding, the end of which has been flattened out and adorned with flowering creepers.

Johanna was depicted wearing the garniture in a painting from 1865. The portrait was painted by the artist Édouard Boutibonne during her daughter Wilhelmina’s honeymoon.

Gold and amethysts
One of the most impressive garnitures in the Hallwyl collection was bequeathed by Johanna Kempe and consists of a bracelet, brooch, hairpins, locket and a pair of earrings in gold with large amethysts and small oriental pearls. The component parts of the garniture were purchased over a period of almost 10 years.

It may look as if the garniture’s items belong together, but the brooch and the earrings were purchased first. The locket followed later and, finally, the hairpins and bracelet completed the set.

Stones from the beach
Included among Johanna’s jewellery is a relatively simple, but emotionally important, garniture comprising a bracelet, brooch and a pair of earrings. The stones, which are ordinary, different-coloured beach stones, were collected by Johanna herself from the beach at her parents’ farm Dybeck in Skåne. She’d spent her childhood summers there and returned as an adult with her own family. The bracelet was made by the goldsmith Gustaf Dahlgren in Malmö in 1863. The stones were cut into flat ovals with bevelled edges. All the stones were set à jour, which means that there is no gold behind them but, instead, only an enclosing rim. 
Seashell cameos
Cameo jewellery has been worn since ancient times and consistently reappears in jewellery art. Johanna Kempe owned a small gold garniture with cameos. Cameos can be made using several different materials, such as stone, lava, glass, porcelain or seashells. Johanna’s cameos were carved into a seashell, which is clearly visible from the convex shape. Seashells are the material that most closely resembles the more exclusive banded agates, but which are easier to find and work with and are, therefore, cheaper to produce.

The motifs of cameos were often inspired by the classical antiquity, but both the earrings and brooch in this garniture depict animals and natural landscapes, which is typical of the Neo-Rococo style.

Pietra dura – mosaic from Florence
Throughout the whole of the 19th century, jewellery art was dominated by Italian styles. In the north of Italy, for example, mosaic jewellery was made, which became very popular. The Venetian mosaic consisted of small pieces of glass, whilst the Florentine mosaic used different-coloured stones that had been cut to shape and set against a black base, which is called a Pietra Dura. Wilhelmina owned a complete set of Pietra Dura jewellery: bracelet, pendant, brooch with appendage and hairpins.
Hallwyl Museum
Credits: Story

Content: Jessica Söderqvist
Photo: Erik Lernestål
Producer: Sara Dixon

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