RMIT Year 3, Semester 1, Jewellery #1

17 10 2012

Third year, first semester, Jewellery #1: Brooch for a Mother

The first piece in this group is: ‘Brooch for Mother, Barbara, 1542′.

Made for: Barbara Schwarz, nee Mangold  (1507 – unknown), below in a portrait by Christoph Amberger, 1542.

image from … Lubbeke, Isolde (translator). The Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection – Early German Painting 1350 – 1550, Sotheby’s Publishing, London, 1991

As I wrote about her at the time:
Matthäus married Barbara in 1538.  They had a son Veit Conrad Schwartz.

Premise:  Matthäus has commissioned a brooch for his wife, as mother of his son.  Given his intense interest in fashion and his social aspirations, the piece must represent the very best of the current taste.  He has access to the most important jewellers and the most beautiful gems: ‘if one was having a new piece made and needed precious stones, one could either send to Venice, Antwerp or Lisbon … or go straight to the Fuggers’*.

The first part is true, Barbara was Matthaus’s wife; the premise is of course my fiction.

To design the brooch I undertook lots of reading and sourcing images of jewellery from the mid-1500s. The most striking feature, to my mind, of this era was the manner in which the settings were painted – like pointed gothic window frames.

The most influential image was this one, Anna von Minkwitz by Cranach the Younger from 1543 (perfect timing!).

portrait by Cranach the Younger

The gorgeous neckpiece was the inspiration:

scribblings; image not to be reproduced without permission

less scribbly drawing; image not to be reproduced without permission

Finished brooch:

Brooch for Mother, Barbara, 1542; image not to be reproduced without permission

The construction was pretty tricky – one layer for the brooch backing with the stone settings, and one for the decorative bezels, riveted together. It’s made of sterling silver and 18ct gold-plated (a student doesn’t mess about with that much gold! well, at least I wasn’t confident enough to). The centre stone is an upside-down iolite, and the other stones are garnets.

This piece was so enjoyable to make, and is likely the most traditional-looking I’ve made. I like it very much.

… last post in this series: RMIT Year 3, Semester 1, Jewellery
… see more projects from RMIT Year 3 here

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*refer: Somers-Cocks, Anna & Truman, Charles.  The Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection – Renaissance Jewels, Gold Boxes and Objects de Vertue, Vendome Press, NY, 1984


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2 02 2014
What happened to Barbara? | Melbourne Jeweller

[…] This was incredibly interesting to me because the Barbara Schwarz portrait by Christophe Amberger was the basis of a piece I made in my third year at uni : Brooch for a Mother. […]




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