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Sarah Bernhardt and her jewelry

Nicknamed the “golden voice” by Victor Hugo, “the divine” or even “sacred monster”, invented for her by Jean Cocteau, Sarah Bernhardt didn’t lack of superlatives to be described.

 

Rightly considered one of the greatest tragedians of the 19th century, she was also a theater director, painter, sculptor and even author of a few plays.

 

Attaching the greatest importance to the costumes she wore, she took care of her stage outfits and knew how to surround herself with the greatest costume designers of her time, Alfred Albert, Theophile Thomas and Jules Muelle.

 

She launched the fashion for theater jewelry which she liked to be showy and voluminous. In December 1894, she met Alphonse Mucha who first designed for her the long Gismonda poster before taking charge of the composition of her stage adornments for 6 years.

 

In 1896, for Lorenzaccio, he imagined a necklace whose patterns were reminiscent of the brocade of the actress's costume which he also created, and for Medee, in whom she played the title role, a snake bracelet which wound from the hand to the elbow. This masterpiece, created by the famous jeweler Georges Fouquet, combines gold, enamel mosaic, opal and ruby.

 

In 1899, Sarah Bernhardt asked Rene Lalique to create the necklace and the sumptuous crown that she wore in La Princesse Lointaine. The tragedian was under the spell of the artist's creations from whom she ordered numerous jewels, both for the stage and for her everyday life; she appreciated their decorative character, the fluidity of their forms, their evocation of the Orient, of fauna and flora, the mixture of precious and ordinary materials as well as their sparkle in the spotlight. The creation of the stage jewelry and the famous coat covered in precious stones for the actress in the 1902 revival of Theodora, in which she again plays the role she created in 1884, constitutes one of the flagships of this artistic complicity.

Gismonda. Sarah Bernhardt. Theatre de La Renaissance, poster by Alphonse Mucha. 1895.
Bibliotheque nationale de France, departement des Estampes et de la photographie.

Lien Gallica

The story of the collection

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On the occasion of the centenary of the disappearance of Sarah Bernhardt, the Bibliotheque nationale de France invited the jewelry designer Amelie Blaise to draw inspiration from stage ornaments preserved by the departement des Arts du spectacle to compose a special collection.

In spring 2023, the designer was received by a curator, in charge of the costume collections of the department des Arts du spectacle, who presented to her Sarah Bernhardt's stage jewelry kept in a store at the Bibliotheque François Mitterrand.

Amelie Blaise: “Walking through the backstage of the BnF was a very unique experience. A little journey out of time and space. The sensory disorientation induced by the sequence of corridors, doors and elevators contributed to make this moment very unusual. Box after box appeared real treasures : cascades of crowns, pearls, charms, breastplates and so many ornaments full of stories. How lucky to have been able to hold for a moment in my hands these objects handled and worn by the great Sarah Bernhardt. Her theater jewelry oscillate between the spectacular and realism. I chose to keep this duality to design the tribute collection. I was freely inspired by two birds mounted on brooches which particularly touched me.”

Back in her workshop, Amelie Blaise explores different ways of research before finalizing the design of the brooch which constitutes the main piece of the collection: a majestic bird, elegant chimera between a peacock and a lyre bird. With her team, she then develops the complete range, elaborates the prototypes, finalizes the production... A long artisanal work in the service of a collection which combines contemporary creativity and rich heritage.

 

The first pieces will be available on sale in October 2023 at the Boutique Richelieu and at the Librairie du Petit Palais.

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Large fibula representing a bird in gilded metal, green, yellow, turquoise stones and white pearls, belonging to the Charles Dullin fund, consisting in particular of jewelry and costumes created for shows performed by Sarah Bernhardt.
Bibliotheque nationale de France, departement des Arts du spectacle.

Lien Gallica

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Fibula representing a bird in gilded metal with red and turquoise stones, belonging to the Charles Dullin fund, consisting in particular of jewelry and costumes created for shows performed by Sarah Bernhardt.
Bibliotheque nationale de France, departement des Arts du spectacle.

Lien Gallica

The jewelry collection

In partnership with the BnF, Amelie Blaise has created a collection of costume jewelry that combines Art Nouveau and oriental influences. A tribute to the grandiloquence and astonishing modernity of the tragedian.

Handmade in Paris in the workshop Amelie Blaise, this collection is made up of 13 pieces: brooches, necklaces, bracelets, earrings and head jewelry, made of gold-finish engraved brass and featuring emerald green and celadon green resins.

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Photos : Mathilde Blaise

Shops

The Sarah Bernhardt collection is available in the following stores and via the Atelier Amélie Blaise online store.

LIBRAIRIE BOUTIQUE DU PETIT PALAIS

Petit Palais

Avenue Winston Churchill, 75008 PARIS

The store of the Petit Palais offers an original choice of jewelry selected in accordance with the eclectic style of the building and its collections. This is the ideal place for lovers of Art Nouveau-inspired jewelry, with slender curves and harmonious colors.

The store is open to everyone from Tuesday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

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LA BOUTIQUE RICHELIEU

Site Richelieu de la BnF

5 rue Vivienne, 75002 PARIS

The bookstore is a bright and pleasant space which offers a fine selection of quality works echoing the collections of the National Library and its museum. The pieces of the Sarah Bernhardt collection are the first jewels to be presented there. 

Opening hours: Tuesday from 10:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Wednesday to Sunday from 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.

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LIBRAIRIE-BOUTIQUE DE L'HOTEL DE CAUMONT

Hôtel de Caumont - Centre d'art

3 rue Joseph Cabassol, 13100 Aix-en-Provence

The bookstore-shop of this prestigious 18th century aristocratic residence, presents a wide choice of souvenirs, including jewels. The temporary exhibition Mucha, master of Art Nouveau highlights the 1900 style and its actors, including the emblematic Sarah Bernhardt. 

Opening hours: every day from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

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ATELIER AMELIE BLAISE

3 rue Godefroy Cavaignac, 75011 PARIS

The brand's boutique offers the entire jewelry collections and a selection of decorative objects, games and original gifts.

Opening hours: Tuesday to Saturday from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. 

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ARTEFACT

12 rue du Pas Saint Georges, 33000 BORDEAUX

Une boutique au coeur du centre-ville qui propose une sélection pointue de bijoux de créateurs, dénichés en France et dans le monde entier.

Horaires d'ouverture : du mardi au samedi de 11h à 19h et le lundi de 14h à 19h

Tél. : + 33 (0)5 56 44 39 47

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L'EMBELLIE DESIGN

14 rue de la Villette, Paris 19ème

Un concept-store original. Objets et bijoux uniques, multiples, pétillants, insolites...

Tél. : +33 (0)6 88 59 58 35

Crédits

BnF, service des éditions : Véronique Pellier http://editions.bnf.fr/

Atelier Amélie Blaise : Amélie et Mathilde Blaise https://www.amelieblaise.com/

Typographie : Faune, Alice Savoie / CNAP https://www.cnap.fr/sites/faune/

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