LONDON – During a trip to Paris at the beginning of the 20th century the Edwardian socialite Mrs. Florence Evelyn St. George (nee Baker), 1870-1936, purchased a “collier de chien,” or choker, from the fashionable jeweler Rene Lalique. Later converted into a bracelet, brooch and pair of ear studs, the suite of jewelry was passed down through the family and will be offered for sale for the first time by international auctioneers Lyon & Turnbull. The suite will be sold on Oct. 22 part of the firm’s Select Jewelry & Watches auction. Bid absentee or live online through LiveAuctioneers.
Florence Evelyn St. George was one of the most celebrated and talked about socialites of her time. Born in New York in 1870, her father, George Fisher Baker, was the founder of the First National Bank of the City of New York and at one point the third richest man in America. At 21, Evelyn married the Irish land agent Howard St. George against her father’s wishes, and in 1905 the couple moved to Dublin. It was here that Evelyn’s life would take a dramatic turn when she was introduced to the artist William Orpen.
St. George and Orpen began a passionate and very public affair from about 1908. St. George became not only his muse but also his patron, commissioning numerous portraits of herself and of her children, one of which allegedly was fathered by Orpen.
Visually the couple made for much gossip, as she was a foot taller and eight years older, something that Orpen did not shy away from commenting on in his humorous sketches of the pair enjoying their time together. She was also known as a fashionista, wearing exotic hats and fine jewels acquired during annual visits to Paris with her brother George.
Lalique created a few other chokers in this trelliswork pattern between 1900-10 employing varying materials and motifs. This particular suite, worked with green glass beads and diamonds, reflects his growing interest in the glassmaking for which he would become so well known in the 1920s.
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