Can a writer create a magnificent piece of jewelry? Sure he can. How about a poet ... or an artist ... or an ambulance driver? Absolutely. Case in point ... during World War I our subject served as an ambulance driver for the Red Cross.
Now here's the thing of it. Everyone has seen a finished work. We all show it. They all show it. We all see it. They all see it. The adulators prance about it. Fans rave. The elite strut their stuff. The sub-elite drool with envy. But how many get to the planning stages ... especially when created by a brilliant man whose strength was poetry and playwriting ... and not jewelry. However ... despite his literary penchants ... this guy did made jewelry ... and it was utterly striking.
He was born July 5, 1889 in Maisons-Laffitte, Yvelines ... a village near Paris. His parents were socially prominent. His father was a lawyer and an amateur painter who killed himself when our protagonist was only nine. He subsequently left home when he was fifteen and published his first volume of poems 4 years later when he was nineteen. He hung around in the bohemian artistic circles and soon became known as The Frivolous Prince--the title of a volume of poetry he published at twenty-two. His name ... Jean Cocteau.
This man counted among his friends such insignificants as Marcel Proust, André Gide, Ravel, Picasso ... this list is endless. He wrote the libretto for Igor Stravinsky's Oedipus Rex. He was ... ladies and gentlemen ... as many of you with astute minds may have guessed ... no slouch. He was also an opium addict. And his jewelry is as avant-garde as the man himself.
He wrote a play called La Voix Humaine which garnered much imitation by the likes of Roberto Rosselini, Anna Magnani, Simone Signoret ... and endless others. And he created jewelry too? Sheesh! This guy is exhausting me. By the way ... he also wrote Les Enfants Terribles and Beauty and the Beast ... titles with which I suspect many of you are familiar. He died on October 11, 1963 shortly after hearing of the death of his great friend ... Édith Piaf ... who ... parenthetically ... was no slouch either. The title of this Tidbits might have been--as I think about it--The Slouchless.
Monsieur Cocteau made a piece of jewelry called the Academician's Sword which, I believe is a brooch. The handle in profile represents Orpheus. It's surmounted with a lyre and is inset with a 2.84 carat emerald ... a gift from Coco Chanel.
So ... this week I present to you a finished piece of jewelry of great beauty created by a brilliant man and accompanied by the planning sketch which was the prelude to the finished product.
And so here it is ...represented on our pages ... a work of jewelry by Jean Cocteau.