Bovet 1822 Ilgiz F. and Bovet 1822 collaborate on timepieces exhibited at the Kremlin Museum
A springtime stroll in Moscow along the flower-lined pathways of Alexandrovsky Garden leads to the Kremlin Museums where the exhibition titled “Jewels Inspired by Nature” seems particularly à propos.
The show, which runs through July 31st, is dedicated to the multitalented contemporary Russian jeweler, Ilgiz Fazulzyanov, known as Ilgiz F. It is the first time the Kremlin Museum has devoted a show to a single master craftsman in precisely 99 years, 1917 being the year when the same venue hosted its last solo exhibition dedicated to the famed Peter-Carl Fabergé.
At 48, Ilgiz, who originally trained as an artist, has come a long way to become one of the most original and talented jewelry designers to emerge from post-Soviet Russia. While the show focuses primarily on Ilgiz’s jewelry, showcasing his know-how in crafting faceted pearls and “grand feu” enamels, the masterpieces on display also include a small but splendid collection of métier d’art watches that result from his collaboration with the Swiss watch manufacture, Bovet 1822.
“Our tradition of miniature enameling goes back to the early 19th century, when Edouard Bovet employed the best watchmakers in the Val-de-Travers and entrusted the case decorations to Geneva enamellers,” explained the Maison Bovet. “Today, Pascal Raffy, the owner of Bovet 1822, perpetuates that decorative tradition. The appreciation he shares with Ilgiz for uniqueness, and their mutual passion for fine art, brought the two together.”
The project called for transposing miniature but elaborately detailed paintings onto an enameled watch dial. Entitled "Dials Inspired by Nature," the pieces resulting from that collaboration and shown in Moscow include a ladies’ pendant watch and a ladies’ wristwatch, along with a men’s wristwatch.
The ladies’ Amadeo Fleurier 39 “White Poppies” features a décor of softly intertwined leafy poppies in a 39 mm case, on a 18k gold base plate with a bow and lug set with 165 diamonds. A similar dial of white poppies is featured on the pendant watch.
The men’s wristwatch draws its inspiration from the “Horsemen of the Apocalypse,” a story derived from the Book of Revelations, the last book of the New Testament. The Amadeo Fleurier 43 features one of the four biblical Riders known as “War” in a miniature enameled rendition on a 43 mm case in red gold, leaving out the three remaining Riders - Famine, Pestilence, and Death – no doubt given their less engaging connotations.
Each timepiece, with its handcrafted enameled dial, is one-of-a-kind. “The feat of realizing these dials is all the more impressive given that today’s timepiece diameters are smaller than those of 19th century,” noted the Maison Bovet.
The show was organized at the behest of Dr. Elena Gagarina, director of the Kremlin Museum, who visited the atelier of Ilgiz two years ago, acquired several pieces for the museum, and spearheaded the effort to put on the exhibition.
“The show includes about 160 pieces, forty percent of which were created especially for the exhibition. For the rest, collectors from all over the world have loaned their pieces,” said Dina Nasyrova, Ilgiz’s spouse and communications director.
Ilgiz was born in 1968 into a working-class family in Kazan, capital of the Republic of Tatarstan, located about 800 kms east of Moscow. “Ilgiz’s father was a factory worker, he repaired machinery. His mother took care of the family. His were very simple beginnings,” said Nasyrova.
He attended art school in his native town, and earned a degree in decorative design. After school, he began working with stained glass windows and made prints on silk. He later transitioned to jewelry, mostly as a self-taught craftsman. In 1999, he moved to Moscow and continued to renew traditional techniques in both enameling and cutting pearls.
“Ilgiz’s specialty is faceted pearls. The craft can be compared to cutting diamonds, but it takes more skill because pearls are breakable,” Nasyrova said. “He also practices grand feu or hot enameling techniques, much the same way as René Lalique or Alphonse Fouquet. All the work is done in our atelier in Moscow.”
In 2011, Ilgiz became the first Russian jeweler to win the top prize at the International Jewelry Design Excellence Award held at the Hong Kong International Jewelry Fair. He was twice awarded the title of "Champion of Champions" in that competition, first in 2011 for his "Bullfinches" pendant, and again in 2013 for his “Butterflies” series in faceted black pearls.
“We are a small confidential label known mainly to select collectors and jewelry specialists,” said Nasyrova. “What we do is unique. It appeals to those who understand the value of great craftsmanship beyond its commercial aspects.”
The Bovet Manufacture upholds the tradition of decorative arts applied to its delicately engraved, chased, enamelled, engine-turned or hand-painted cases, dials and movements, thus passing on the unrivalled knowhow that has been gracing the Firm’s collections and heritage since 1822.Find out more >
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