Dragonfly woman corsage ornament (1897–1898).
Gold, enamel, chrysoprase, moonstones, and diamonds.
Seeing as dragonflies emerged as a theme this week I can’t resist mentioning my favourite of all, this bizarre confection by glass artist and jeweller René Lalique (1860–1945), a dragonfly with female torso and gryphon claws. This was owned by wealthy Armenian collector Calouste Gulbenkian (in whose museum it now resides) and was worn once by Sarah Bernhardt. You can barely tell from this picture but the delicate gold wings are hinged at several points so they wouldn’t be obtrusive for the wearer.
The Lalique company made more glassware than they did jewellery and these included a range of unique automobile mascots whose pedestrian-puncturing potential saw them banished to museum cabinets as road safety laws evolved. The dragonfly design was an especially splendid example, being placed above a multicoloured disc lit from beneath which rotated in accordance with the speed of the car. The faster the car travelled, the faster the colours changed.