I spent over an hour reviewing the 28 jewels of Judith-Ann Corrente that are being sold at Christie’s in New York on December 11, 2019. They are not jewels with big stones that usually garner all the attention at auction previews. Ms. Corrente’s jewels are about design and ideas. Many are masterpieces.
The collection spans the great styles of 20th century with an emphasis on Art Nouveau and Art Deco work. Several are by the most daring independent names in jewelry including Belperron, Fouquet, Lalique and Vever. The most gem intensive jewels in the collection are a diamond Art Deco sautoir by Van Cleef & Arpels and an Art Deco brooch by Chaumet.
Generally when you see jewels of this quality, they are housed in museums, big jeweler’s archives or are in a collection of someone who is preserving the designs as works of art for posterity. Judith-Ann Corrente wears her jewels. In the catalogue there are several photos of the statuesque beauty in the designs. Unfortunately, those images were not available for editorial purposes. But a Google image search reveals a small handful of shots of Ms. Corrente wearing several pieces in the collection being sold.
So who is Judith-Ann Corrente? The biography written by Christie’s reveals she is a woman of style and substance. Following is an excerpt.
After graduating from Princeton University in 1970 as one of nine women in the first co-educational class when she received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Near Eastern Studies and later completed her Master’s degree in Near Eastern Languages and Literatures at New York University. Thereafter, Ms. Corrente spent a Fulbright Scholar year in Istanbul and at St. Anthony’s College at Oxford University while enrolled in a doctoral program in Near Eastern History at Harvard.
Judith-Ann Corrente has been elected to the boards of several independent schools as well as the National Association of Independent Schools, where she developed a life-long dedication to inclusive governance and equity and justice initiatives. Ms. Corrente served as Board President of the Oliver Scholars Program, a college access program for Hispanic and African American children from underserved communities in New York City for six years before becoming a life trustee.
A former trustee of The Central Park Conservancy, Ms. Corrente was the 2011 recipient of The Central Park Conservancy Women’s Committee’s prestigious Frederick Law Olmsted Award in recognition of her funding the renovation of the East 110th Street playground.
With philanthropy as a cornerstone of her life, Ms. Corrente has incorporated her great passion for the arts into her efforts. She served four terms as the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Metropolitan Opera Board of Directors from 2015-2019. She remains a Managing Director and a member of the executive committee as well as Capital Campaign Co-Chair.
Details on several of Ms. Corrente’s jewels are following. Notably, her Belperron amethyst demi suite once belonged to Dorothy Paley. She also has pieces that were originally in the collections of Babe Paley and Lillian S. Timken. These three women are among the most significant jewelry collectors in history. With this presentation of a segment of Ms. Corrente’s collection, it’s clear she is solidly in the ranks of the greatest jewelry collectors in the world.
ART NOUVEAU DIAMOND AND HARDSTONE BROOCH, ATTRIBUTED TO GABRIEL FALGUIÈRES
Depicting Orpheus, old, single and rose-cut diamonds, hardstone, gold, 3 ins., circa 1900, unsigned.
This Gabriel Falguiès pendant appears in Diamonds: A Century of Spectacular Jewels, a book I co-authored with Penny Proddow. It depicts a hard-stone carving of Orpheus singing as he floats down a river to the sea, encircled by a cresting wave of gold and diamonds.
Depicting two revelers playing their pipes, blue molded glass, dark blue enamel, old, single and rose-cut diamonds, 18k gold (French marks), 3 3/8 ins., circa 1900, signed Lalique, maker’s mark
This Lalique has been exhibited in any number of retrospectives on the Art Nouveau master jeweler. It has also been published in numerous publications including Diamonds: A Century of Spectacular Jewels, a book I co-authored with Penny Proddow. The dog collar plaque shows two revelers playing their pipes in diamond woods. The design reveals the Japanese influence on Lalique’s jewelry; it has no perspective point, the composition is flat and the subjects are cropped on all sides.
Dark blue, lavender and pink enamel, oval and pyramid-shaped cabochon star sapphires, old and rose-cut diamonds, 18k gold (French marks), necklace 14 ¾ ins., bracelet 6 ½ ins, brooch 2 ins., necklace may be worn as two bracelets, circa 1900, each signed Lalique, each with maker’s mark, blue R. Lalique fitted case
This rare Lalique suite been exhibited in any number of retrospectives about the designer and published in numerous books.
ART DECO CARVED EMERALD, DIAMOND AND ONYX BRACELET, OSCAR HEYMAN & BROTHERS
Hexogonal-shaped carved emerald, calibré-cut emeralds, old, single, baguette and hexagonal-cut diamonds, onyx plaques, platinum, 7 3/8 ins., circa 1925, unsigned, no. 15133
Oscar Heyman & Brothers, 2019: Certificate of Authenticity
Accompanied by a copy of an archival drawing of the bracelet by Oscar Heyman & Brothers, numbered 15133
ART NOUVEAU DIAMOND TIARA, HENRI VEVER
Old, single and rose-cut diamonds, platinum (French marks), plastic comb of later addition, 8 1/8 ins., circa 1910, signed Vever, ‘Paris’
A SENSATIONAL ART DECO DIAMOND SAUTOIR, VAN CLEEF & ARPELS
Old, single, baguette, square and shield-shaped diamonds, platinum (French marks), neckchain 31 ½ ins., tassel 6 7/8 ins., neckchain may be separated into smaller segments and worn as bracelets, choker and a pendant, 1928, signed Van Cleef & Arpels, ‘Paris’, workshop marks (Rubel Frères), nos. 30216, 38277
A MAGNIFICENT ART DECO CARVED EMERALD, DIAMOND, RUBY AND ONYX BROOCH, CHAUMET
Cushion, oval and drop-shaped cabochon carved emeralds, calibré-cut rubies, old, single and rose-cut diamonds, cabochon onyx plaques, platinum and 18k white gold (French marks), 5 ¼ ins., circa 1925, signed Chaumet et Cie, ‘Made in France’
This brooch was originally in the collection of Lillian S. Timken.
ART DECO ROCK CRYSTAL, ONYX, ENAMEL AND DIAMOND SAUTOIR, GEORGES FOUQUET
Frosted rock crystal beads and carved dome, onyx hoop and beads, pyramidal-shaped onyx plaque, red enamel, single-cut diamonds, silk cord tassel, platinum, neckchain 31 ¼ ins., circa 1925, signed G. Fouquet
This Art Deco jewel by Georges Fouquet is similar in style if not the same piece Penny Proddow and I published in our book Bejeweled: Great Designers, Celebrity Style. During the era, Fouquet played with several motifs that were popular among the big names in jewelry like the ubiquitous seed pearl tassel necklace. Fouquet took the accessory and did it his way, with frosted rock crystal beads for the necklace, a piece of black onyx with red lacquer bands for a suspension ring, and a bunch of nylon strings with crystal and onyx beads dangling under a carved crystal dome.
SET OF ART DECO JADE, CORAL AND ENAMEL JEWELRY, SUZANNE BELPERRON
Jade beads and half-beads, jade rondelles, coral plaques and rondelles, black enamel, 18k white gold (French marks), cuff diameter 2 ¼ ins., each clip 1 3/8 ins., circa 1935, unsigned, clips with maker’s marks (Groëné et Darde)
This set was originally in the collection of Dorothy Paley.
It was published in the book Jewelry By Suzanne Belperron.
CORAL, DIAMOND AND MULTI-GEM RAMS HEAD BANGLE BRACELET, CARTIER
Coral plaques and navette-shaped beads, baguette and circular-cut diamonds, circular and baguette-cut emeralds, marquise-cut rubies, seed pearls, gold, expandable, circa 1955, unsigned, no. 228 (indistinct)
This bracelet was originally in the collection of Babe Paley.
CARVED EMERALD ELEPHANT, RUBY, DIAMOND AND SEED PEARL NECKLACE, CARVIN FRENCH
Carved emerald elephant, oval cabochon rubies, ruby beads, faceted diamond beads, pear-shaped rose-cut and circular-cut diamonds, seed pearls, gold and platinum, circa 1984, 19 ins., unsigned
This emerald elephant necklace was published in American Jewelry: Glamour and Tradition by Penny Proddow. The pearl and ruby beads were wove by Hilda Janssens of R. Esmerian, Inc. The metal parts of the pieces were manufactured by Carvin French.