About the artist
Eugène Fontenay (1823-1887) was one of the outstanding goldsmiths of the 19th Century. His father and grandfather preceded him in the business and by drawing on this long family tradition, Eugène Fontenay had both a deep understanding of the technicalities of goldsmithing and of the history of the subject. He spent his apprenticeship with Marchand and also worked for the Parisian jeweller Dutreih before embarking on his own in 1847. His work was much influenced by the Campana Collection of classical jewels, purchased for France by Napoleon III in 1861 at the instigation of Castellani, and his jewels in the revivalist style using bound gold wire and beading are of superb quality. These are sometimes found in fitted cases with figurative enamelling on some of his works and these were executed for him by Eugene Richet. In late years, Fontenay devoted his time to writing and his best known publication “Les Bijoux anciens et modernes” was published in 1887, five years after his business was sold to his foreman Henri Smetz.