Pendant-brooch with peacock


C.R. Ashbee, radical founder of the Guild of Handicraft, designed this brooch as a present for his wife.

He was one of the first to make jewellery in the Arts and Crafts style. Like other Arts and Crafts designers, he rejected the traditional focus on costly materials and emphasised instead artistry, skilful metalwork and unusual stones. This brooch is a masterpiece of the style.

Pendant-brooch with peacock

 

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Pendant-brooch with peacock

London, about 1900
Designed by C.R. Ashbee (1863-1942) and made by the Guild of Handicraft
Gold and silver with diamonds, pearls and garnet
V&A: M.31-2005

C.R. Ashbee

 

Like many in the Arts and Crafts movement, C.R. Ashbee began his working life as an architect. His ambitions went further, and while still a young man he founded the Guild of Handicraft, which became well known for its furniture, metalwork and jewellery.

His designs were admired in both Europe and America. This photograph was taken by the American architect Frank Lloyd Wright, who knew Ashbee well.

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C.R. Ashbee

Chicago, 1900
By Frank Lloyd Wright
Photograph

Courtesy of the Ashbee Family and Cheltenham Art Gallery & Museums, Gloucestershire, UK

 

Janet married C.R. Ashbee in 1898, ten years after he set up the Guild of Handicraft.

In 1902 Ashbee moved the guild from the East End of London to Chipping Campden in the Cotswolds. Janet took an active role in the new location, organising classes and workshops.

She kept the peacock brooch that Ashbee made for her until her death in 1961.

Janet Elisabeth Ashbee

 

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Janet Elisabeth Ashbee

England, 1910
By William Strang
Oil on canvas

© Cheltenham Art Gallery & Museums, Gloucestershire, UK
The Bridgeman Art Library
Necklace

 


Ashbee designed about a dozen peacock jewels around the turn of the century. He once referred to the birds as a metaphor for the Arts and Crafts, linking their colour and finery with the movement’s desire for beauty.

This necklace is made in a very similar style to the peacock brooch-pendant. Both have fanned tails decorated with blister pearls and diamonds, and also a single red garnet eye.

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Necklace

London, 1901-2
Designed by C.R. Ashbee and made by the Guild of Handicraft
Gold and silver, with blister pearls, diamonds and garnet
V&A: M.23-1965

Victoria & Albert Museum, London

 


This drawing shows Ashbee’s favoured peacock motif suspended from a necklace, with a matching earring.

Pearls (highlighted in white) decorate the fanned tail, along with hints of enamel colour. The drawing is signed and dated ‘C.R. Ashbee / May 1905’.

Designs

 

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Designs for a gold necklace set with pearls, with a pendant in the form of a peacock, and for matching earrings



May 1905, by C.R. Ashbee
Pencil and watercolour on grey-green paper
V&A: E.125-1968

Victoria & Albert Museum, London