This highly symbolic year for Caran d’Ache marks one hundred years of creativity based on a love of colour and the art of writing.
Approximately 90 crafts are practised at the Geneva Company and, to celebrate this wide range of expertise, it has created an outstanding collection of five unique writing instruments: the Collection Privée, dedicated to art in general, the art of enamelling in particular, and the history of Geneva. This collection was created in association with the artist and master enameller, Andrée Peaudecerf.
Andrée Peaudecerf worked for many years at Caran d’Ache as a painter and decorative artist. She also excelled at the very rare craft of miniature painting in enamel, an art she had studied at the Geneva School of Decorative Arts. Geneva has a long and exceptional tradition in enamelling, and she followed in the footsteps of master miniaturists and cabinotier watchmakers. Today she is one of the very few artists still working in this highly refined technique. Because she has always kept a place in her heart for Caran d’Ache, two years ago she started a discussion with its president, Carole Hubscher about creating a unique series of writing instruments in honour of the company’s centenary and the history of Geneva.
That discussion led to the five writing instruments in the Collection Privée decorated with the emblems of Geneva’s cultural history. Four miniature frescos, painted in enamel on the solid gold body of the fountain pens, paying tribute to the humanitarian, scientific and artistic facets of Geneva, as well as to the bicentenary of its entry into the Swiss Confederation. A fifth subject is the Caran d’Ache centenary. The Collection Privée brings together the three worlds of Caran d’Ache: Art, Colours and Fine Writing.
Five unique writing instruments. Fountain pens in 18-carat solid gold, each with an enamel miniature hand-painted by Andrée Peaudecerf. Tips and caps in authentic black Chinese lacquer, applied by hand in the ancient traditional method.
Caran d’Ache 1915: The enamel scene on the body of the fountain pen portrays the historical character of Caran d’Ache. Founded in 1915 as the “Fabrique genevoise de crayons” it was renamed “Caran d’Ache” in 1924, as a tribute to the famous Russian-born French carricaturist, Emmanuel Poiré known as ‘Caran d’Ache’.
Henri Dunant: Geneva’s humanitarian character is the subject of the enamel miniature painting of the Battle of Solferino fought on 24 June 1859 between the armies of Napoleon III and the Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph.
Horace-Bénédict de Saussure: Geneva’s scientific character is evoked in the enamel miniature painting showing the first ascension of the Mont-Blanc which was organised by the Geneva scientist Horace-Bénédict de Saussure in 1786.
Ernest Ansermet: Geneva’s artistic character is represented in the enamel miniature that depicts the great orchestral conductor and musicologist, Ernest Ansermatt. He had a profound influence on European cultural life in the 20th century. In 1918, he founded the “Orchestre de la Suisse Romande” in Geneva, which he led until 1967.
Geneva, 1815: This enamel miniature celebrates the bicentenary of Geneva’s entry into the Swiss Confederation. The start of the 19th century was a key period for the city which, in the space of two years, gained its independence and became the 22nd Swiss canton.
The art of enamelling
Enamelling has been practised since ancient times to decorate particularly precious objects. Unlike other decorative arts, enamelling uses its own specific materials and techniques. When fired to a high temperature, the enamels vitrify and consolidate to present a perfectly finished surface. Very few enamellers have mastered the different forms of this ancient craft: enamel can be champlevé, cloisonné, mixed or painted. It was highly admired by Geneva artists in the 17th century, and even today it often borrows from medieval illuminated manuscripts but, of course, while parchment can deteriorate enamel is eternal.
Andrée Peaudecerf is one of the very few artists still working in this refined, secretive technique which has very close links to the history of decoration in Geneva. She attended one of the first enamel classes at the Geneva School of Decorative Arts and went on to experiment with mural painting, frescos, stained glass and mosaic. In the 1960s, she lived at Sète in the South of France where she painted freely, inspired by the colourful life of the port. Back in Geneva with her family, she began her long career as a decorative artist at Caran d’Ache. She acquired an enamel oven and rediscovered her love of this extraordinary technique.
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