This gorgeous medallion pendant exemplifies the stylistic beauty of Art Nouveau. The ultimate depiction of a Gibson Girl, the maiden on this pendant emerges from bearded Irises, her hair pinned up into a voluptuous bun, and her elegant neck adorned with a diamond choker. Gibson Girls were once considered the ideal for feminine beauty, depicting women as autonomous, stylish, and sensual. The woman gazes upward, her eyes following the irises off to the distance. The design continues onto the back of the medallion, where foliate creates a lovely border around the piece. The maiden’s choker contains 3 rose cut diamonds.
On the left hand side, the pendant is marked with the signature of E. Dropsy. One of the most famous French medalists of the Art Nouveau era, Jean-Baptiste-Emile Dropsy lived from 1858-1923 and won many awards including a medal at the Salon de Paris in 1898. The back of the pendant is marked “FIX”, indicating that the pendant was made by shaping a heavy gold covering over a base metal—a technique that was used extensively in France during the Art Nouveau era. The gold fix on this piece has a beautiful patina that adds charm and detail to the pendant.
Gold Medal jewelry was hugely popular during the Art Nouveau era. Cameo and intaglio jewelry had recently gone out of fashion, and the jewelry trend shifted toward medallions that emulated Ancient Greek and Roman medals and coins. The expertise of French medal engravers, combined with new technology like the lathe, made these beautiful pendants accessible to the masses, and they quickly became a highly sought after trend, popular in both Europe and the United States. Jewelers, sculptors, and even poster artists collaborated to create the designs used in these pendants—which range from maidens and floral motifs, to Greek and Roman imagery.
The pendant weighs 4 grams. It is 1” across and the bail measures 6 x 7.4 mm. Circa 1910.