Published: October 28, 2008
From an ancient Roman snake bracelet to a ceremonial Chinese headdress to a Tiffany & Co. glittering necklace, “Bedazzled: 5,000 Years of Jewelry” highlights more than 200 pieces from the Walters Art Museum through January 4.
The exhibition features some of the Walters’ greatest masterpieces, as well as many hidden treasures on view for the first time. The allure of gold and gems and the desire to design objects of adornment have remained constant throughout history and across a spectrum of cultures.
This selection of Walters’ holdings not only presents the evolution of techniques and materials, but also demonstrates the importance of jewelry as an expression of creativity and often wealth and position. In addition, a special exhibition section is devoted to rings, the only type of jewelry worn continuously through the ages.
The Walters is one of the few museums worldwide that can provide examples, both in depth and range, of fine jewelry from 3000 BC through the early Twentieth Century. Assembled primarily by one of the museum’s founders, Henry Walters, during the first three decades of the last century, this collection contains choice examples of expert craftsmanship.
“We are so lucky to have this rich, varied and aesthetically beautiful jewelry collection at the Walters,” said museum director Gary Vikan. “Henry Walters’ eye for great pieces and his immense generosity have made this one of the world’s finest collections of jewelry.”
This exhibition was organized by the Walters Art Museum; it includes many pieces from the renowned collection of Benjamin Zucker (New York), which are on loan to the Walters.
Exhibition highlights include:
*Gold bracelet from the First Century BC encrusted with precious stones and multicolored enamel inlay discovered in a tomb in the Greek colony of Olbia (present-day Ukraine).
*Tiffany & Co. iris corsage ornament decorated with 139 sapphires, diamonds and other gems, which was a grand prize winner at the 1900 Paris Exposition Universelle.
*Nineteenth Century imperial, ceremonial Chinese headdress with designs of phoenixes, butterflies and peaches and crafted of gilded silver, kingfisher feathers, silk thread, pearls, rubies and glass beads.
*Plique-à-jour enamel and sapphire pansy brooch created by René Lalique and purchased by Henry Walters at the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition.
*Finger rings that held a variety of roles throughout history, including emblems of love and marriage, death and mourning, power and faith.
“Bedazzled” displays works from the ancient world, such as two pendants in the form of rams’ heads demonstrating the development in multicolored glass production by the Fifth Century BC. Egyptian treasures will be presented, including a bright blue faience amulet featuring the lion-headed goddess Sekhmet as well as an intricate necklace strung with beads and amulets of gold, faience, carnelian and glass.
A small, 64-page full-color publication, Bedazzled: 5,000 Years of Jewelry , accompanies the exhibition.
Museum admission is free but “Bedazzled” is a special ticketed exhibition. For tickets, www.ticketmaster.com , 800-551-SEAT or 410-547-9000, extension 265. The Walters is at 600 North Charles Street.
5 Church Hill Road / Newtown, CT 06470
Mon - Fri / 8:00 am - 5:01 pm