Saint Cecelia chatelaine pendant by Froment-Meurice. A gold and silver pendant in the Renaissance Revival style, the main element composed of an ornately carved openwork architectural structure in the form of an altarpiece, the central niche surmounted by a cupola set with pearls, with scroll and scalloped details to the interior and suspending a fleur-de-lis, containing a figure of Saint Cecelia playing a viola da gamba with two dancing putti to either side, flanked by two smaller raised pedestals issuing fleur-de-lis, each set with a putto (one playing a harp, the other playing a triangle), suspending a double swagged gold chain set with pearls, with two further chains suspending on one side a circular lapis lazuliseal in a trumpet form mount and on the other a watch winder, the whole accented with blue enamel and set to the reverse with a hinged band loop, approximately 9.5cm in total length. Tested yellow gold and silver, French, circa 1850.
François Désiré Froment-Meurice (1802-1855) was one of the most important French jewellery and silversmiths of the nineteenth century, described by Victor Hugo as the Cellini of his age. He exhibited in a number of International Exhibitions, where Queen Victoria and Prince Albert were among his clients. The Renaissance Revival, as seen here, and the Gothic Revival were his two major decorative styles. This piece is also typical of his penchant for placing a silver figure, usually female, within a yellow gold architectural mount. The central figure and flanking putti are identical to those found on two brooches by Froment-Meurice, one in the Birmingham Museum and one in the Schmuckmuseum Pforzheim. Another brooch by Froment-Meurice, in the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum, features a similar central figure, but this time as an angel with wings, in a silver oval blue enamelled frame. These examples also bear a similar gold and blue enamel architectural mount, and differ only in the surrounding and pendulant embellishments.
Saint Cecelia is the patroness of music, whose feast day is celebrated each November. A Roman maiden, she was amongst the earliest and most famous of the Roman martyrs, reputedly beheaded in 230 AD under the Emperor Alexander Severus. Throughout history, Saint Cecelia has inspired musicians and poets alike, appearing in John Dryden’s 'A Song for St Cecilia’s Day', 1687, and Handel’s 'An Ode for St Cecilia’s Day', 1739. In Christian iconography and religious art, she is most often portrayed playing a viola or harpsichord.
A drawing of this design is included in Henri Vever’s ‘French Jewellery of the Nineteenth Century’, London, 2001, page 234.