Vacheron Constantin unveils three new one-of-a-kind additions to its Métiers d’Art Hommage à l’Art de la Danse collection, based on the highlights of a ballerina’s daily life: learning, training and performance. These creations from the workshops of the Manufacture revisit the ancestral art of Grand Feu grisaille enamelling to highlight the art of classical ballet by reinterpreting the works of Edgar Degas.
These three new one-of-a-kind models will be given an exclusive presentation at the New York City Ballet on May 8th 2014. The master enamel artist drew inspiration from three more paintings by Degas and represent three new highlights in the life of a ballerina: dance school with Dancers Practicing at the Barre, dated 1877 and on show in the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, USA); the backstage of a dress rehearsal with Dancers near a Set, dated 1888 and belonging to a private collection; and the pinnacle of a ballerina’s life with Two Dancers Entering the Stage, painted circa 1877-1878 and exhibited at the Fogg Art Museum (Cambridge, USA).
The finesse of Grand Feu grisaille enamel painting reveals the slightest details of the protagonists: the tiniest fold of the tutus, the smooth velvet of the ribbons encircling their neck, the transparency of tulle and muslin…
Entirely in the manner of Degas, the Vacheron Constantin master enamel artist reinterprets the exact moment, the gestures, the pose and the perspective, playing on chiaroscuro light and shade effects to anchor the scene firmly in reality. Whereas grisaille enamelling is generally applied to black enamel, the VC artisan decided to work with a translucent brown enamel base serving to accentuate the depth effect while lending a soft nuance to the painting. After applying this base, the enameller adds touches of Limoges white enamel that is then drawn out using needles, extremely fine brushes and even cactus thorns so as to create graded shades and play on the various pigments.
Limoges white enamel is a now rare and extremely rare powder mixed with oils. The challenge lies in the material itself that is extremely difficult to work with and requires the artisan to display almost intuitive sensitivity. Each of the layers requires a firing operation that must be timed to the nearest second. With each Grand Feu firing, the enamels change, become more intense and retract. The enameller’s experience plays an essential role in this process. The firing times are calculated according to the type and quantity of the material applied and their exact duration is one of the trade secrets of the artist who must juggle with a broad range of grey shades. The latter are perfectly suited to the art of portrait painting, as is confirmed by the extreme finesse shown in depicting facial expressions. These watches are housed in a 40mm white gold case using automatic cal 2460. Each is a unique piece