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The Portrait Jewels of Charles Ricketts (1866-1931)

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Ritchie, Helen 


Collector, painter, illustrator and sculptor, Charles Ricketts (1866-1931) is remembered as one of the most talented and flamboyant artists of the late nineteenth century. His short­lived experiments designing jewellery resulted in some of the boldest and most unique pieces made at the turn of the century. Two portrait jewels by Ricketts survive, one in the collection of the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, and one in The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge. These jewels, made as gifts for friends, only make sense in the context of the designer – an artist who self-avowedly preferred the past, declaring in 1898, “I am turning away from the 20th century to think only of the 15th”. At the same time as designing jewellery, Ricketts worked simultaneously on woodcut engravings, paintings, illustrations and costume and theatre design and was described contemporaneously of being ‘clever and various’ and capable of ‘diabolical versatility’. Therefore, examining other pieces created by Ricketts while he was working on these portrait jewels, as well as the art he encountered - often recorded by him in his diaries (now in the British Library) - may further illuminate the artistic process behind these unique jewels.



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Jewellery Studies

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