Brooch with Hunting Scene
Chased and cast gold brooch in openwork with three interlocking oval forms made of elaborately chased pine twigs; two horizontal ovals are intersected by a vertical oval frame. These are interspersed with scrolls, foliage, and pinecones. Within are three figures in relief: a striding young man in short tunic blowing a horn following a hound chasing a leaping stag. On the reverse the scrolls are finely engraved. On the reverse is the maker’s mark “WIESE” (used by Louis Wièse 1890 to 1925) and lozenge–shaped maker’s mark. The original fitted brown leather case has inside on the beige velvet lined lid the gold imprint: WIESE/ 90/ R. du Richelieu.
Openwork spirals create a fanciful setting for a medieval hunt scene in this finely worked brooch; the hunter blows his horn on the left as he trails behind a running hound and a leaping stag. Characteristic of the method of working of the Wièse firm is the free interpretation of historical styles from different eras and their skillful combination in a single jewel.
Known primarily for his Gothic revivalism, Wièse also looked toward the Renaissance. Decorative foliate scrollwork incorporating pine cones like that in the overlapping circles on the present brooch is found in ornament prints by Nuremberg artists of the sixteenth century. Employed as models during the Renaissance by artists and artisans of different media, these prints again found service among Revival jewelers. Remarkably similar are horizontal friezes by Virgil Solis (c. 1514–1562) and Theodor Bang (f. 1606). Although scenes of hunting sometimes appear nestled in the Renaissance ornament in these prints, Wièse instead probably turned to medieval manuscript illumination as inspiration for this scene. Especially Gaston Phebus’s Livre de la Chasse, but also medieval marginalia, supplied imagery for Wièse’s tunic-clad hunter, hunting dog, and prancing stag. Like other Gothic Revival artists, Wièse had ready access to abundant manuscript reproductions published in the nineteenth century (see cat. no. 4), as an interest in medieval illumination escalated.
Brooches composed in openwork and in varying Gothic and Renaissance revival styles seem to have been a specialty of Jules and Louis Wièse. A number of examples are found in the British Museum. The present brooch is, however, more intricate than many of these and more unusual in its combination of styles.
(compare) Hellmuth 2014, p. 205, cat. no. 34; Gere/Rudoe 2010, p. 357, fig. 318; Bascou/Massé/Thiébaut 1988, p. 221 (openwork brooches by Wièse); O’Dell–Franke 1977, pls. 71, 74, 75, 135, 136; and Berliner 1925, part II, pls. 227, 229 (for Renaissance ornament prints).