Gerard Sandoz

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Gérard Sandoz was the product of two generations of renowned jeweller-horologists; his grandfather Gustave Sandoz, an emminent watch-maker who studied under Bréguet; and his father Gustave-Roger who successfully moved the family company’s focus towards jewellery and was a great patron to the Arts. Like his father, Gustave-Roger was awarded the coveted accolade of ‘officier de la Légion d’honneur’. With this heritage and contacts, it was only natural that Gérard’s apprenticeship as a goldsmith was done in the family workshops and design with his uncle the interior designer Paul Follot. However, whilst he completed studies in jewellery and goldsmith work, jewellery was but one of his artistic passions which also incorporated cinema, poster-design and Fine Art. After his successes in jewellery during the 1925 Exposition Internationale in Paris, where the firm won two Grand Prizes, Gérard went on to exhibit both jewellery and poster design in the exhibition of 1927 held in Milan. Gérard Sandoz’s aesthetic sensibilities were beautiful symptoms of a man very much infected by the times in which he lived. His life was fast and not without excesses. He was passionate about racehorses, jazz and modern techniques in cinema, these milieus drew endless characters to him which he entertained lavishly. His tastes were uncompromisingly modern. He commissioned interior designer René Crevel to remodel the boutique in unmistakably geometric lines, creating one of the most talked-about shop fronts in red and black marble amongst the Louis XV traditions of rue Royale, and owned a Bugatti even though he could not drive. His adoration of modernity and his rejection of the gaudy decoration of the past is never more clearly understood than when looking at his jewellery. His pieces displayed clean simple lines incorporated into bold over-sized designs dedicated to the aesthetics, rather than the wealth, of the materials used. He echoed the colours of the shop facade by often using onyx and coral in his jewellery and red and black enamel in his silver objects. Some of the most iconic of his designs adorned cigarette cases. Sandoz was inspired by many subjects the Modernists and Futurists held dear. His cigarette cases depicted sporting scenes such as boxing or skiing, jazz musicians transforming traditional music, Cubist-inspired street scenes and machine movements. As the glory of the period came crashing down in 1929 so did the Sandoz family boutique, it had already been bought by Georges Lenfant in 1927, who had made many of the pieces for the firm. Gérard Sandoz had remained artistic director at the firm after his father’s retirement and Lenfant takeover but his attention was already veering towards his other passions and he left the business altogether to pursue his love of cinema and then abstract painting. The company was finally dissolved in 1938 leaving behind a short but electrifying legacy of revolutionary iconic jewels and objects that captured one of the most exciting and creative periods of European history.