Fouquet

Spanning three generations and spearheading both the Art Nouveau and the Art Deco Modernist movements, Maison Fouquet was first founded in 1862 by Alphonse Fouquet. Initially producing designs classic to the period such as garland-, lace- and then Renaissance-inspired jewels, with an already thirty-strong workshop, Alphonse Fouquet exported his pieces around Europe and as far away as South America. It was his son Georges Fouquet, who took over his father’s lead in 1895, who embellished his father’s predilection for fantasy and Nature and embraced the beginnings of Art Nouveau to make the name Fouquet one of the leading figures of the aesthetic. Epitomising the house’s commitment to the style is their collaboration with Alphonse Mucha for L’Exposition universelle of 1900 and for the design of their shop-front in rue Royale, which can still be seen as it is preserved at the MuséeHotel Carnavalet in Paris. This was one of the many collaborations that the Fouquet house would explore. As an important figure in the jewellery world and a great pioneer for jewellery as Art, Georges Fouquet sought out the talents of emerging and established artists in many fields to compliment this vision, such as the architect and designer Eric Bagge, the poster artist A.M.Cassandre, the sculptor Jean Lambert-Rucki, and the painter Andre Leveille. Undoubtedly the most important collaboration was with his son Jean Fouquet who designed not only under his own name but also created some of the house’s most daring and innovative styles during the period 1925-1931. This enabled the Fouquet name to transition, with incredibly rare dexterity, from Art Nouveau to Modernism despite them being polar opposites in inspiration and execution. Jean Fouquet epitomises the term ‘Artist Jeweller’ his manifesto rejecting the intricate romantic creations of the Art Nouveau and Belle Epoque jewels in favour of the Modernist and Futurist ideals of industry and clear simple lines. He stated that jewels had to constitute pieces of art whilst at the same time responding to the same needs as an industrial item. Both Maison Fouquet and Jean Fouquet’s jewels remain highly covetable pieces of art from a fascinating and volatile period of European history that has shaped so much of our taste today. As Georges Fouquet predicted when he wrote in June 1929 “It is incontestable that in a certain number of years our jewels will be sought after for collections and museums where they will have their place.” The financial crisis of 1929 lead to the bankruptcy of Maison Fouquet and Jean Fouquet continued to create small collections of pieces in partnership with his father’s workshop and then later with the enamellist Gaston Richet until he ceased activity in1960.