This brooch, made by Oscar Massin (1829–1913), was acquired by the Christian Bauwens Fund. Until now, the work of this internationally-renowned designer, who was a real pioneer in jewellery development, had not figured in any public Belgian collection.
Born in Liege, Oscar Massin worked as a jewellery designer in Paris. His work had a huge impact on jewellery development during the second half of the 19th century and early 20th century. His naturalistic creations, whose technical perfection was particularly admired, enjoyed an international reputation and on several occasions his work was honoured at international fairs and exhibitions.
This floral brooch, a drawing of which was shown at the 1878 World Fair in Paris, was a pivotal piece in his oeuvre. The design represents a narcissus, with a gilded bow and wild rose branches and silver wild roses. The pistils are made of gold. The piece comprises four elements that can also be worn separately, as a hair pin for instance.
Wild roses first appeared in Massin’s creations at the beginning of the 1860s and in 1863, one of Massin’s projects provided the inspiration for a print made by the famous engraver Noël Eugène Sotain.
In 1867 and 1880 respectively, Massin made donations of numerous drawings, photographs, publications and projects to the Industrial Museum in Brussels "with a view to encouraging the study of fine arts and their application in industry". Massin considered it important to make them accessible to others in order to encourage teaching of the decorative arts. Thanks to the acquisition of this brooch and making it accessible to the public at the DIVA, (the new museum for silverwork, jewellery and diamond in Antwerp), the Christian Bauwens Fund is continuing the tradition initiated by this Liege silversmith.