Paul and Henri Vever: Swan and Lily Comb

After winning a second Grand Prize at Paris’s International Exposition in 1900, the Maison Vever invited guest designers. The most famous was Eugène Samuel Grasset (1841–1917). He designed the “Swan and Lily Comb.” Paul (1851 – 1915) and Henri (1854 – 1942) Vever made it, c.1900.


Maison Vever, 1871, Rue de la Paix à Paris. Source: gallica.bnf.fr

On top of an ivory comb, a black swan and a white swan eat from a water lily. Their necks form a heart — eternal love. Swans were popular Art Nouveau motifs because their winding necks expressed Symbolist philosophy’s elongated style perfectly.

In this comb, the lake is made from painted enamel, showing the water’s subtle color blend from aqua-green to dark blue. A leaf in the water can be seen on the bottom left.

On the comb’s top frame are three leaves made of plique-a-jour enamel divided by gold veins. The leaves’ color variations correspond to those in the water. Notice the dark blue at the top of the center leaf and the dark blue at the bottom-center of the water.

To make the top frame into a semi-circle, there are two groups of water-lily buds in between the leaves. Dripped-gold frames the bottom Grasset’s design. The comb resides at the Petit Palais, Musée des Beaux-Arts de la Ville de Paris.

Here is the comb in situ

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For more scholarly research, please see our Resource Library and these books.


Art Nouveau Jewelry

Henri Vever: French Jewelry of the Nineteenth Century

Art Nouveau Jewelry (Christie’s Collectibles)

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