Lot 235. Diamond and onyx jewel, 'Tiger', Cartier, 1950s, and a natural pearl bracelet. Estimate 155,000 — 255,000 CHF. Photo Sotheby's.
The clasp designed as a tiger, pavé-set with single-cut diamonds of yellow tint and polished onyx, the eyes set with marquise-shaped emeralds, unsigned, numbered, French assay and maker's marks, the bracelet later added, composed of three rows of natural pearls measuring from approximately 3.85 to 4.45mm, length approximately 170mm.
Note: Jeanne Toussaint, the enlightened director of Haute Joaillerie at Cartier between 1933 and 1970, affectionately called “la Panthère” by Louis Cartier, was responsible for the evolution of the panther motif, present in Cartier production since 1914, into the three dimensional creations loved and made fashionable by the Duchess of Windsor. Following the success of the first examples created for the Duchess and relying on the design skills of the brilliant Pierre Lemarchand, Toussaint oversaw the production of a series of beautiful and varied 'Great Cat' jewels for the international set. Daisy Fellowes, Princess Nina Aga Khan and Barbara Hutton are just a few of the style icons who fell under the spell of Cartier's tigers and panthers in the 1950s and 1960s.
The Duchess of Windsor fell in love with the ‘Great Cat’ jewels, and she commissioned the first three-dimensional panther jewel in 1948, a cabochon emerald and gold brooch. One year later, she ordered the iconic sapphire panther brooch with a pavé-set panther perched atop a cabochon sapphire weighing more than 152 carats. After ordering several more jewels of panther design, the Duchess also looked into other ‘Great Cat’ motifs from the Cartier menagerie. In 1954, she purchased a pair of lorgnettes in the form of a tiger, in 1956 a tiger bracelet, and in 1959 a clip of similar design set with yellow diamonds and onyx.
Sotheby's. Magnificent Jewels and Noble Jewels, Sessions 1 and 2, Genève, 16 mai 2017, 10:30 AM