“Janus a principio ad finem”

A Still Life is the modern name for the “dead nature” art: a painting or a picture that represents animals, flowers and other objects that may come from the Nature (fruits, groceries, plants, stones or shells) or built by the human being. The purpose of this part of Art is producing an effect of calmness and confort by using a special composition and playing with lights.

And this is exactly what I’ve decided to study this year.

The still life paintings have a long story behind, since the Egypt era, when they were used to decorate tombs. The Egiptian’s believed these groceries would be real beyond life. Later, Plinio the Old painted animals and shoe shops, barbers or other kind of places. That’s why he was called “the artista of the common things”.

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We also find still life art in the old Rome, in mosaics from Pompeii, for instance. During this time it was a tradition to use a skulls in paintings as a symbol of mortality and fugacity.

From 1300 onwards, Giotto and his supporters resumed the still life through religious paintings, although it was a minor habit until the Rennaissance.

With Leonardo da Vinci, the still Life art was separated from the religious meaning. Leonardo studied the Nature through his watercolor system. Jacopo de’ Barbari stepped forward with his Partridge, gauntlets, and crossbow bolt  (1504). Religious relations had already been diminished in size.

During the 16th century the interest for Nature considerably rised including great spreads of still life material with figures and often animals, due to the New World disconvery. Natural objects began to be appreciated as individual objects of study and collections.

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In the 17th century, Caravaggio played an important role, since he was one of the first artists who painted dead nature as a Wall art. He also applied his naturalism art to the still life. His Fruitbasket (1595–96) is the first painting using only dead nature.

My inspiration this year will be the still life masters from Caravaggio onwards: Frans Snyders, Osias Beert, Clara Peeters, Jacob van Es, Willem Heda and Pieter Claesz, Samuel van Hoogstraten, Cornelis Norbertus Gysbrechts, Georg Flegel, Juan Sánchez Cotán, Zurbarán, Blas de Prado, Mateo Cerezo o Antonio de Pereda, Juan van der Hamen, Juan de Espinosa, Antonio Ponce, Francisco Barrera or Ignacio Arias, Francisco de Burgos Mantilla, related to Velázquez; Pedro de Camprobín and Pedro de Medina, Alejandro Loarte, Juan van der Hamen,  Valbuena, Tomás Yepes or Juan Fernández

Also genius at flowery still life like Jan Brueghel the Old and Daniel Seghers in Flanders, Mario Nuzzi or Margarita Caffi in Italy and Spain, Pedro de Camprobín, Gabriel de la Corte, Juan de Arellano and his son-in-law Bartolomé Pérez de la Dehesa, will join me during this 2015.

These artists were inspired by the Greek sleights of hands, which I’m willing to study in detail in order to try to reproduce the work with my Nikon, my illumination equipment and the many old objetcts I’ve been gathering at home over the years.

I’ll be inspired by the “vanity” painting, the one where fruits and flowers mix with books, jars, coins, jewels, paintings and devices, always accompanied by symbolic pieces. I’ll use the meaning of decadence by picturing dead nature scenes. Each month will be different, but always with a given style behind, a style and an inspiration that I won’t say until the end of the year, so you can guess.

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12 Baroque still lives, 12 still even (according to how they called them back in the 17th century in the Netherlands. I rather will call them this way, instead of “dead nature”. It has a special meaning to me and gets much better what I’m lookinf for.

Many evenings studying, reading calmly and composing photographs are ahead. I’ll focus on lights and shadows. I’ll be entering in a world I love.


Images: María Vintage Photography

Chaplin’s vintage jewelry

It’s said Paulette Goddard’s passion with jewelry started in the early 30’s, right after she got secretly married with Charles Chaplin. Then it became usual for her to arrive to the dressing room with a little pouch plenty of jewels.

If I had to highlight one of the pieces she collected, I think I’d choose the two diamond necklaces. The most expensive one however is a jewel from the 40’s worn by the actress during her role at the movie Kitty. The piece had an impressive diamond in the middle that might have been part of her engagement ring.


But with no doubt my favourite piece is the necklace from the 19th century. She wore it in many fests and the most famous parties of the time, both in a form of pendant or set in a tiara. In the picture below these lines you’ll see her wearing it in both forms.

After the frustration she felt when she didn’t get the role of Scarlett O’Hara in Gone With The Wind, Chaplin gave her a golden bracelet and cabochons made out of emeralds from the jeweller Trabert&Hoeffer Inc. It’s a stunning group of flashy flowers that appears in many of the photos she was taken. The bracelet was combined with earrings with the same cabochons in emeralds and diamonds, similar to the design of the flowers. The flowery style was in fashion in the US by the time, and her bracelet and earrings are supposed to be inspired in a Van Cleef&Arpels’ brooch owned by the Duchess of Windsor. A similar bracelet though was found among the Mary Pickford’s collection.


Other distinguished piece in Goddard’s collection was a brooch with rubies with the form of a lips designed by the artista Salvador Dali exclusively for her

In 1990 (April and October) most of her collection was auctioned. In both occasions the pieces put out to tender were mainly from the 40’s. The most notorious jewels were these ones:

  • The bracelet and earrings from Trabert&Hoeffer
  • A colorfull and charming pair of earrings with the fom of the golden flower, yellow and blue sapphires and rubies, by Cleef&Arpels, with a combining hairpins and a ring.
  • Also from Van Cleef&Arpels were a pair of earrings made with egg-formed diamonds, surrounded by carved diamonds.
  • A brooch of diamonds with the form of a snowflake.
  • A beautiful brooch in carved coral by Cartier.
  • The two amazing necklaces we’ve been talking about.


Paulette Goddard’s jewelry collection was in line with her exquisite style, a woman not only beautiful but very smart. So perfect that when many men tried to lavish her with flowers, she responded: “I don’t accept flowers, I don’t accept any perishable”.





With “B” for “Brooch”

The root of a brooch is the fibula, a piece as old as the Bronze Age.

The use like we know it today – piece of jewelry – started during the Classic period. It was used to hold or fasten the traditional heavy clothes.

Over the years, this piece became into an ornament with the only purpose of decoration. Nowadays it’s a considered a vintage jewelry for women to be worn over the lapel, dresses or a scarf.


It’s made of two solded pieces: the decorative part and the safety pin to clip it to the fabric. And I say “safety” because brooches usually have a security system to help keep it fastened to the clothe and therefore avoid the loss.

It’s also usual to find a hidden piece into the brooch. We have a few of the kind in our vintage collection. It’s a sort of ring that can be opened in order to pass a chain that will allow you to use it as a necklace.

Many women collect them, and it’s frequent to find brooch collectionists specialized in just a given form of the piece, like bows, ladybugs, dragonflies and the kind.

It’s a gorgeous piece of jewelry that will always match your gown to help make it more elegant and timeless.


In oder to show you how a good choice of a brooch can be your ideal accesory to finish your attire more elegant, let me use the well-known saying “to close with a golden brooch”, which means that the matter you are talking about needs that final touch to make it just perfect.

Images: @María Vintage Photography


Virginia Woolf: The art of writing that only lost against illness

The big screen brought to us a few years ago the image of one more woman ahead of her time: the British Virginia Woolf (played by Nicole Kidman). She was a novelist, essay writer, editor, an active feminist and one of the most representative personalities in London in the beginning of the 20th century. Nowadays, she is considered among the best and most innovative writers of that time.

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Born within a well educated family, she was in constant touch with the cultural environment. “A woman should have money and own a room if she means to write fiction”, she said, because her life wasn’t easy – in spite of the fact that her family was wealthy – The life of the writer of Orlando (her biography) was troubled with mental illness. Her parent’s death (specially her father’s) was the beginning of several mental breakdowns and a depression that lead her to commit suicide years after.


Virginia Woolf always suffered from bipolar disorder, but the severe moral in the time stopped her from talking about these episodes in her autobiographies. However, she was strong enough to beat the illness for a while only with her writing. Her husband, Leonardo Woolf also was always a big support. He was an economist and writer, member of the well-knkown group Bloomsbury. They got married whe she was 30 and they always had a huge affinity. They both together launched a publishing house that published, among others, Sigmund Freud or T.S. Eliot’s biggest hits.

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In 1941, with Europe in the middle of a war, Virginia Woolf threw herself to the river Ouse. In her emotional suicide note she showed once more time her loyalty to her husband with these words: “You have given me the greatest possible happiness. You have been in every way all that anyone could be. I don’t think two people could have been happier till this terrible disease came. I can’t fight any longer (…) If anybody could have saved me it would have been you. Everything has gone from me but the certainty of your goodness. I can’t go on spoiling your life any longer. I don’t think two people could have been happier than we have been”

Despite her important literary work and her being in the cultural life of the time, after her death Virginia Woolf’s writing dissapeared, until the feminist movement recovered it during the 60’s. It was then when her work revived to become into one of the English biggest novelists. She was terribly engaged wiht her time and other people who, like her, loved the writing. Virginia Woolf was a model of personal and professional development and she passed on us a magnificent work of fiction writing and essays.







With “A”: for Aljófar Pearl

That curious name “aljófar” comes from the Arabic language. It means: small pearl or group of them with irregular shape. The poets use this word more often to describe the tiny dew drops that cover plants and grass early in the morning. These pearls are generally of not much value.

You can distinguish between two different aljófar: the “poppy” (usually more esferic) and the egg-shaped “seeds”, more irregular.

This name is also given to jewelry pieces made with this kind of pearls like earrings or necklaces, or even to those pieces used to decorate the wealthiest silks during the Renaissance.

Nowadays is not frequent to find jewels made with these pearls, since it’s very complicated to work with them due to their tiny size.

When they are well attached, both over gold or silver, they have a very beautiful and elegant look.



With “T” for “Tiara”

First of all, I’d like to differentiate “tiara” from “diadem”, although the origin is the same. The best place to wear a tiara is the front of the head, where it’ll be better seen. A diadem is placed on top of the head to hold the hair.

This is an elegant and fascinating jewelry usually linked to old European royal families that played a relevant role in History. Many of these tiaras were dissambled when they stopped being in style and added the gems to other jewels.


Romans played a very important role in the evolution of the tiaras. They started this fashion and used precious stones like amethysts, pearls, emeralds, sapphires and diamonds to make them. In Greece, on the contrary, they were made out of leaves and flowers. Their designs are used still nowadays.

Lately, the tiara has been adapted to be used in weddings. It’s the most elegant and sophisticated jewel for a bride since it’ll give her a especial shine that day. In my humble opinion there’s nothing that can make the bride feels so especial like tiaras. For many this is the only time in their lives when they’ll wear a jewel like this.


This habit – top the head of a bride in her wedding day, that is – has a meaning: The loss of her inocence and the triumph of love.

It’s also frequent to see how has been used the “language of flowers” through the years, as well as the “language of the stones”. That is something a jewelry artist has in mind when makeing new designs. The selection of the stones is particularly very important, since according to the old tradition of the lapidary, each stone has a meaning. Exactly the same happens with flowers. That is why the flower design and colors are so important in making tiaras, especially those made for brides.

tiara-diccionari-vintage-by-lopez-linares-(7)Let me give you a bite of the principal meanings:




Images: María Vintage Photography 

With “R” for “Rosary beads”

A rosary is a strand of beads ending in a cross that is used to lead the prayer. Back in the past the beads were made with dry roses, that’s the reason it was called “rosary”. Currently it’s one of the most important symbols within Christianity.

The knots or beads are used to count sequences of prayers. Each prayer is formed by 15 equal parts called mysteries.


However sometimes the ter mis used to refer to a strand of beads itself. In vintage jewelry there are many silver and Golden rosaries, with beads made of mother-of-pearl, pearls, or semiprecious stones. It’s a very common gift for children who receive their first communion.

Something that in the very beginning was just a Christian devotion object is today inspiration for many jewellery masters to create their necklaces and bracelets. You’ll find designs with different sizes of beads of all colours, or others more vintage from the 19th century.

As usual, the jewelry inspires in popular habits.



Images: María Vintage Photography


The high society’s jewelry in the Renaissance: Lucrezia Panciatichi

Lucrezia, the beautiful wife of the Florentine politic Bartolomeo Panciatichi, has come to us in a stunning portrait with no background, where is seems Bronzino, the Renaissance artist who painted it, did want us to focus our glance on this aristocratic amazing woman.

And I don’t blame it… Over her slim and elegant neckline a pearl necklace rests, with a brooch holding from the middle. Then underneath there’s a long gold chain with a little inscription on it that says “Sin fin amour Duré” (love should last forever).


And in her left hand she wears a little ring in gold and ruby that easily might have been her engagement ring, a piece that is today our protagonist in our Historic Jewels Collection.

The luxurious dress in sateen and red velvet defines her cold and quite beauty. Bronzino made a very good job playing with lights and shadows along her figure.

Lucrezia holds with the right hand a little prayer book over her lap. It seems she was waiting for the artista to tell her it was finished to just keep naturally reading.

The humanist and politic Bartolomeo Panciatichi’s whife since 1528, Lucrezia Panciatichi was inmortalized together with her husband by the artista Angelo di Cosimo, il Bronzino (1503-1572), who always worked under Michelangelo’s shade. Back in that time the art in the city of Florence was controlled by two huge names: The Medici family and Michelangelo.


Bartolomeo Panciatichi was son of Bartolome “The Old” and belonged to a very influent family of businessmen from Pistoia. They owned a business in the French city Lyon, a place very popular in that time due to the strategic situation it had as a central point of France, Italy, Switzerland and Germany.

Bartolomeo did rather prefer to carry on with his career as an humanist and politic and left aside the familiar business whe he was very young. In Lyon he met Lucrezia and after a few years the whole family moved in to Florence. There he achieved very good positions as an important politic and became in one of the most influential men in his time.

And his spouse, a lady who in this portrait rests solemn, dmure, elegant, devoted and quite symbolises Renacentist women in the high society.

Giorgio Vasari referred to this painting with these words: “…portraits of his and hers are so natural that seems to be really alive, and only surprises the spirit”

Both Bronzino’s portraits are shown in the Uffizzi’s gallery in Florence.







Imágenes: María Vintage Photography 

“P” for “Peineta” or Spanish Haircomb

A “peineta” (the Spanish term for “haircomb”) is a female accesory similar to a comb with a convex boday linked to an area plenty of teeth. This accessory is meant to be put in place in a upsweep or low updo.

There’s proof of the use of this piece since Iberian women used it when living in the Iberian Peninsula. The flirty Roman women didn’t want to be less and also used to wear it on top of their complex and worked updo and hair braids.

Did you know they already used hair curlers back then? They were called “calmistrum” and it actually was a metal pipe that they placed over coal to warm it. Then the ointments did the rest of the work.

So yes, the beautiful Roman women used small combs to dress their hair.

The Spanish “peineta” were usually tortoiseshells. These pieces were very popular in some kind of celebrations like weddings, Holy Week processions, bullfightings, traditional parties and flamenco or copla shows.


The “peineta” is the perfect accessory for the laced shawls or “mantillas” since it highlights the beauty of the embroidery.

The most common comb models have ornamental curved (or squared somtimes) forms made in shell. Most of them have beautiful miniatures on them on shell. Nowadays however is mostly made in acetate or similar materials since turtles are in danger of extinction. Today there are only very few authentic shell-made tortoiseshells left.

Even more common today is the use of haircombs in silver to decorate the brides’ updo. Those were popularized back in the middle of the 19th century.

Nowadays you’ll easily find “peinetas” in silver with zircons, enamel, coral, semiprecious stones and even brass or gold.

The most valuable “peinetas” for collectors are those made back in the Imperial time in Golden brass and coral and also the art-nouveau style pieces from the beginning of the 20th century

Merle Oberon and the most photaphed Catier’s necklace

Merle Oberon was the alias of Estelle Merle O’Brien Thompson, a British actress who was born in Tasmania by the beginning of the 20th century. She is the first protagonist of our new section “Collectors of Jewelry of the History”

Merle Oberon was living in India until she was 17, when she moved out to London on the purpose of becoming a successful actress in cinema.

Her better good luck came when the productor and director Alexander Korda found out about her by chance back in 1930. He made her shine as one of the big ladies in British theatres during the 40’s. The ended up getting married and he was one of the first ones who started giving her away really expensive jewelry.


Merle Oberon wearing the necklace that Napoleon Bonaparte gave to Baroness Haussmann.

One of the very first pieces she acquired was an old necklace in diamonds and emeralds that apparently was a gift from Napoleon the Third to the Baroness Haussmann. It’s said that was his way to thank her for the role of her husband in the new and more modern Paris. Thanks to the alterations made in Paris, this city became in just two decades into the most modern capital in the world. Merle worn the piece in movies like The Divorce of Lady X and Of Love And Desire. Later Merle Oberon removed two tears to the necklace in order to make them earrings.

In 1939 after her marriage, Alexandre got her one of the pieces most beautiful in her collection (at least, it is to me): a Cartier’s piece made with three flowered-formed brooches. The one in the middle, the biggest one, has a charming detail on it: the pistils are diamonds with some movement which adds beauty to the whole piece. These brooches were originary designed to be worn as hair clips but Merle preferred to let them be brooches or even cameos. Sadly after she died the three pieces were sold separately.

There’s a curiosity here that you’ll love to know: a few years later, the Princess Elizabeth of England would get a especial wedding gift from the Prince Philip of Greece: a tiara with three identical flower-formed clips designed by Cartier. Elizabeth II removed them to wear them separately and she did so in many occasions.


Merle Oberon wearing the Cartier’s three-flowered clip that was supposed to be a hair clip in the origins. Photocourtesy of Fine Art America

However, the most amazing piece within her collection is a necklace of diamonds and 29 emeralds from the Baroque that Korda gave her in 1939. The piece fitted her very nicely due to her exotic beauty. The necklace has a very original design for the time especially because of the sensual and elegant form the emeralds are linked.

The story of this piece is very curious indeed and show how humans always want badly what others have. It seemed the necklace meant to be acquired by the designer Elsa Schiaparelli. However Merle saw it in a store in Paris and when she asked the seller about it, she was said the piece had another admirer. Merle didn’t believe the man and thought it was a strategy to sell it to her. After a few days she realized the seller was right when she passed by the store and the jewel had gone. Her mysterious rival was in a fitting room trying on the piece.

The day after Merle went back to the shop to see if the necklace was still there and she saw how Elsa Schiaparelli leaving the place. She came back so devastated that her husband went out, straight away to the jeweller’s and after asking for the piece he surprisingly got it. The stunning 29 emerald will shine in her exotic neckline from that moment onwards.

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Merle enjoyed that necklace until she died. 

Cartier 1938, 29 stunning Baroque emeralds like tears, linked with platinum and diamonds, 44 cm long and finished in 2,642,500 CHF. This is one of the Cartier’s necklace most photographed ever.

Link to the necklace in the Catalog Antiquorum

Other pieces in her collection:


  • A set of two clips designed by Cartier with flowered diamonds, one with the pistil in diamonds and the other with rubies. They might be worn together of separately. Other option was making a bracelet with them. Merle had this bracelet in the movie Til We Meet Again in 1940.
  •   A brooch with saphires and diamonds by Cartier, also detachable to wear as a clip. The piece was set with an oval saphire and petals in diamonds. The stem (also in diamonds) was sold separately. Merle worn this piece many times, not only the clip but also the brooch as a short necklace. I’m sure Merle loved Cartier’s jewelry and the versality of his work.
  •  By the end of the 50’s and 60’s she acquired and changed a big amount of jewelry. She spent a time living in Rome where she got a Bulgari’s brooch with diamonds and rubies. Bulgari also created for her an elegant bag in a non-conventional design (acorn).
  • Van Cleef&Arpels was other of the preferred Merle’s designers during the 70’s. Among her collection is a set of a brooch, earrings and a necklace with turquoises and diamonds in pink that could be transformed into a brooch and a bracelet.
  •  Merle also had a small but good collection of rubies that included an spectacular necklace by David Webb who also made for her a ring and earrings with a big oval ruby in the center.

Most of these pieces were sold in an auction in New York back in 1980, exactly a year after she passed away.

Merle Oberon had a really beautiful and huge jewelry collection.

Pictures and biography






 “Hollywood Jewels” by Penny Proddow, Debra Healy and Marion Fasel

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