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Project for the restoration of a bouquet of flowers made by Jérémie Pauzié

Bouquet of flowers made from precious and semiprecious stones in a vase.
Saint Petersburg. 1740s. Made by Jérémie Pauzié. 
Gold, silver, diamonds, precious and semiprecious stones, glass, fabric.
Techniques: polishing, faceting.
14.0 × 12.5 cm

The Hermitage’s collection of treasures included several bouquets made from precious and semiprecious stone. The places where they were created, the selection of minerals and the decorative arrangement vary, depending on changing tastes and stylistic preferences. For a long time, the bouquets were considered the work of an unknown mid-18th century craftsman, but then they were attributed by Marina Torneus, the keeper of the Hermitage collection, to Jérémie Pauzié. That craftsman was the most prominent jeweller working in St Petersburg in the middle years of the 18th century. His clients included members of the imperial family, courtiers and the nobility of the Russian capital.

Jérémie Pauzié was born in Geneva in 1716. At the age of thirteen he moved to Russia together with his father. Shortly before his death, in 1731, Pauzié senior apprenticed the boy to the court diamond-cutter Benoît Gravereaux in St Petersburg for a period of seven years. Pauzié was an apprentice and then a journeyman right up until 1740, in which year he first opened his own workshop. Now a master craftsman, he worked in the Russian capital for a long time, enjoying the patronage of Empress Elizabeth. He repeatedly travelled abroad to buy fresh materials and finished pieces. The jeweller made snuffboxes, rings, the insignia of orders of chivalry and decorative adornments. He gained particularly fame for his work on the crown for Catherine II. Pauzié left memoirs of his life and work in St Petersburg. He held the title of court jeweller. Nonetheless, in 1764 he moved back to Geneva, leaving his business to his assistants. Pauzié died in Geneva in 1779. The jeweller’s mark and signature are not known.

The stones making up the flowers in this bouquet are for the most part mounted in silver settings, while gold was used for the stems and shoots. The master craftsman used diamonds in different ways. More than 400 of them have a brilliant cut and serve as the centre of a flower or as petals; small rose-cut diamonds (more than 450 of them) edge the brighter stones. It is those – blue and yellow sapphires, rubies, chrysolites, topazes and emeralds – that serve as the main accents in the bouquet, forming the flowers and shoots. Pauzié also used diamonds to mark out the less important minerals, such as garnets of various shades (pyropes, hessonites, almandines). Even the decorative stones (agates, turquoise, chachalong (pearl opal), onyx) do not appear secondary. To add life and a little bit of curiosity, the jeweller attached the tiny figure of an insect to the bouquet. It can be seen on the emerald shoot.

It is believed that bouquets like this were used to adorn an outfit, being attached to either the belt or the shoulder, for which purpose there is a flat hook at the back. Probably later, when the pieces were exhibited in the Treasure Gallery, a glass vase was made. It is possible, though, that in the 18th century, too, the vase was used as a place to keep this masterpiece.

Before restoration, light soiling was detected on the surface of the piece. The fabric is torn in places. Some leaves are missing. The construction has movement in it. Slight deformation of the metal was observed. The lower flowers were missing a petal, while one diamond flower lacked its stone decoration. Nine silk leaves made in the block print technique need to be reinforced and put back in place. Three parts exist separately: a part with a single brilliant-cut diamond and five others; a part with one brilliant-cut diamond; a part with three diamonds and an empty socket for a fourth, which is available. The stones have natural inclusions.

The restoration will be carried out by Igor Karlovich Malkiel, the head of the State Hermitage’s Laboratory for the Scientific Restoration of Precious Metals.
The keeper of this item is Olga Grigoryevna Kostiuk, Candidate of Art Studies, head of the Department of Western European Applied Art.

After the restoration is completed, the work will go on display in the State Hermitage’s Treasure Gallery.

 

Contact:

Evgeniy Fedorov

  E-mail: projects@hermitage.ru