Magnificent and Rare Egyptian-Revival Faience and Jeweled Brooch, Cartier, London
Designed as an Egyptian fan, or flabellum, centering an ancient green glazed faience bust of the goddess Sekhmet, depicted with a solar disc and a uraeus (cobra) upon her head, set against a lapis lazuli sky twinkling with diamond stars bordered by a black enamel aureole and repeating diamond-set stylized lotus motif, all surmounting a stylized lotus blossom; set in platinum and 18 karat gold with a total of 11 single-cut and 89 old European-cut diamonds; the back of the brooch fitted with an 18 karat gold crook, a symbol of state power in Egypt when held by the pharaohs in conjunction with a flail, placed as the connecting support element for the faience relic, signed Cartier Londres, numbered S.L 7353; circa 1923. With original fitted box stamped Cartier.
French Industrial Exposition, Grand Central Palace, New York, New York, April 22-May 3, 1924.
The Illustrated London News, January 26, 1924, “The ‘Tutankhamen’ Influence in Modern Jewelry,” which includes this brooch and indicates the range of pieces incorporating ancient fragments produced by Cartier London in the year and a half since the opening of Tutankhamen’s tomb in November 1922.
Cartier: 1900-1939 by Judy Rudoe, pages 136-138.
The Impossible Collection: The 100 Most Important Jewels of the Twentieth Century by Vivienne Becker, plate 20.
Deriving her name from the ancient Egyptian word ‘sekhem,’ or ‘powerful one,’ Sekhmet was depicted as a lioness. A solar deity, said to be the daughter of the sun god Ra, she was the warrior goddess and the goddess of healing for Upper Egypt, the protector of the pharaohs, and it was believed that her breath created the desert.
This is one of two brooches depicting the top of an Egyptian fan that were made by Cartier London in 1923. The other was sold at Sotheby’s New York Magnificent Jewels auction on December 4, 2007, lot 273.
Egyptian-Revival Jeweled Fan Brooch, Cartier, London, 1923
Composed of an Egyptian glazed steatite plaque of semicircular shape, circa 600 B.C., inscribed with hieroglyphs, the border of papyrus and lotus motifs decorated with pear-shaped cabochon sapphires and square segments of onyx and enamel within a ground of pavé-set old European-cut and single-cut diamonds, the base centering a stylized lotus blossom similarly set with old European-cut, single-cut and rose-cut diamonds and accented with 2 kite-shaped cabochon sapphires and a band of black enamel, mounted in platinum and gold, signed Cartier, Londres, numbered 7300. With original signed case.
An archive photograph of this brooch appears in the exhibition catalogue Cartier: 1900-1939, Judy Rudoe, p. 138, fig. 66. The caption under the photograph states that the inscription relates to Mentuemhat, mayor of Thebes.
The reverse of the faience segment is applied with a gold plaque inscribed with the following: “Overseer of the Priests, Overseer of the Gate of the Foreign Countries, The Priest of Thebes, Mentu-Em-Hat, The Son of the Priest of Amun, The Prince of Thebes, Nesptah The Overseer of the Two Houses of the Soul, Priests of the Tomb of This Priest.”