Rémy Rotenier has created a new jewelry brooch collection, called RémanimalsTM, which features miniature hand-painted portraits of animals dressed up to the nines.
“I wanted to celebrate the close relationship between people and animals, by giving precious pets a human touch in my brooches,” says Rotenier. “Most of us carry pictures of our loved ones everywhere we go, and for many of us, that includes our animals.”
Rotenier, a classically trained French jewelry artist and designer who has painted fine art miniatures for decades, uses reverse carved rock crystal cabochons, providing the portraits with dimension and depth. The animal images are reverse hand painted in oil, then backed in mother-of-pearl.
“Reverse carved and painted portrait miniatures, often called Essex brooches, were prized possessions during the Victorian era,” says the artist. “I’ve added modern jeweled frames to give these vintage and timeless expressions of love a new life.”
Portrait brooches, before widespread photography, allowed people to wear a keepsake or love token that depicted human or animal friends. Such brooches were a way to send a precious message and allow the wearer to keep a loved one close to the heart. The miniature portraits were usually set in silver or gold, with ornamental filigree, and were often embellished with precious stones.
The brooches were popularized in England by the travel guru Thomas Cook, who brought them back from Belgium. The English, legendary for their love of horses and dogs, were soon calling them Essex brooches, after artist William Essex, who specialized in enamel miniatures and was a favorite of Queen Victoria.
Rotenier’s RémanimalsTM brooches honor the Essex tradition. The portraits are framed in sterling silver set with diamonds, and given thick, 22k gold bezels. On the back, a baguette diamond is set (as the center of a dog bone for dog portraits). There’s also a round diamond set next to the artist’s signature, as a secret “wink” to the wearer.
Each brooch is nestled in a beautiful dark teal signature Rémy box, designed by The Jewellery Box in London.
“This is a collection based on celebrating our dear animal friends. Using anthropomorphism gives them human attributes to highlight their steadfastness. Dressing them up also enhances their natural elegance,” says Rotenier. “I find our animals are symbiotic to us, so they needed to borrow our clothes.”
For more information or to commission a RémanimalsTM brooch, contact Rémy Rotenier at 505.450.6318 or [email protected].