Falize Freres (Paris, fl. late 19th/early 20th Century)

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Falize Frères was a renowned French jewellery house, which remained active until 1936.

The origins of the business lie with Alexis Falize (1811-1898), who in 1832 began an apprenticeship with Parisian jeweller Mellerio dit Meller. An eager pupil, Falize quickly learned all aspects of the trade and in 1838 opened up his own workshop. In the 1860s, Falize experimented with enamels and in 1871, he introduced a new method of cloisonné enamelling. Falize’s work was widely copied and sparked a general interest in the use of brightly coloured enamels. Inspiration for his designs was drawn from almost every historical era and many cultures, including those of Persia, India, and Japan. Such was his skill, that Alexis Falize has been credited with revitalizing jewellery and the decorative arts during Napoleon III’s reign. His speciality was ‘artistic’ jewellery, featuring semi-precious gemstones, intricate metal work, and enamelling.

When Falize retired in 1876, his son Lucien (1839-1897) assumed control of the workshops. Having trained with his father for the previous two decades, Lucien was a competent successor - a highly skilled enamellist, goldsmith, and designer. His obsession with eras past (especially the Renaissance) and Japanese art matched, if not surpassed, that of his father. In 1878, Lucien won a grand prize for his jewellery as well as a coveted Legion of Honour Cross at Paris’ Exposition Universelle.

In 1878, Lucien Falize joined forces with the firm of Bapst, the former French Crown Jewellers, to create jewellery for Paris’s wealthy aristocrats. Until 1892, Bapst et Falize enjoyed great prosperity. Around that time, Falize helped to theorize the burgeoning Art Nouveau movement, contributing articles to Siegfried Bing’s monthly journal Le Japon Artistique.

When Lucien died suddenly in 1897, his sons André, Jean and Pierre continued the business under the name of Falize Frères. They produced beautiful Art Nouveau pieces, and were awarded two grand prizes at Paris’ Exposition Universelle in 1900. Falize Frères continued to produce jewellery of exceptional quality until its closure in 1936, and remains renowned as one of the most prestigious French jewellers of all time.