Cf. Exhibition Musée du Petit Palais, "The Art of Cartier", Paris-Musées, Paris, 1989, page 142, plate 312
Sylvie Raulet, "Bijoux Art Déco", Editions du Regard, Paris, 1984, page 127
Judy Rudoe, "Cartier 1900-1939", Harry N. Abrams Inc., New York, 1997, page 217, plate 136
Christie's Geneva, "Magnificent Jewels", 20 November 1997, sold for Sfr. 34,500
According to the present owner, the following four jewels were formerly the property of the late Marie-Blanche, Countess de Polignac, wife of Count Jean de Polignac (18xx-1958) and daughter of Jeanne Lanvin, founder of one of the most well-known French fashion houses bearing her surname. Born in 1897 to Jeanne Lanvin and Count Emilio di Pietro, Marie-Blanche was baptised Marguerite, a name later altered at her husband's wishes. As a child, she inspired her mother to venture into children's clothing, a niche in the fashion business Jeanne Lanvin is credited with creating and extensively developing. It is said of Jeanne that the two things which brought her the most joy were her designs and Marie-Blanche. When she created her perfume "Arpège" in 1927, it was done for her daughter. Their complicity is felt in the gilded image of a mother and child, attributed to the well-known illustrator Paul Iribe, which has become the House's symbol. It was drawn in 1922, and was later incorporated into the design of "Arpège's" black glass boule bottle created by Armand-Albert Rateau.
Marie-Blanche married Comte Jean de Polignac in 1925 and lived between Paris and Brittany. She is particularly remembered for her musical talents. During her childhood, she excelled at the piano, but in the end it was her superb voice which inspired such great composers as Poulenc to speak of her as "la cantatrice dont la voix m'a dicté mes mélodies". She frequented the great musical talents and composers of her time the likes of Poulenc, Arthur Rubinstein, the Stravinsky's and after the war, Leonard Bernstein. She is remembered for her weekly musical salons held on Sundays at her house on the rue Barbet de Jouy in Paris. Her voice has been passed down to posterity by her recording of the Madrigals of Monteverdi.
Upon her mother's death in 1946, Marie-Blanche succeeded her as President of Lanvin Couture and Perfumes until her death in February 1958. An extremely talented individual, she is perhaps best described in Arthur Rubinstein's autobiography as "une charmante jeune femme, petite, délicate .....
The House of Cartier fell under the Persian spell in 1912-13, of which the present buckle is a perfect illustration. The influences were manifold. In 1903, 1907 and 1912, the Musée des Arts Décoratifs held exhibitions, each entitled "Exposition des Arts Musulmans". According to Judy Rudoe in the exhibition catalogue "Cartier 1900-1939", the 1912 show had the greatest impact due to the large amount of objects exhibited (227) and thanks to its thorough, two-volume catalogue written by Georges Marteau and the jeweller, Henri Vever. Another transmitter of the Persian style was the Ballet Russes of Diaghilev with their extremely flamboyant costumes designed by Léon Bakst. Cartier's chief designer, Charles Jacqueau, went constantly and with great relish, the result of which was wonderful designs. The famous couturier, Paul Poiret, also contributed to making Persia fashionable. He adopted the feathered aigrette as his symbol and was known for his creations which demonstrated an affinity with the costumes of the Ballets Russes. Particularly noteworthy also was the Thousand and One Nights theme ball he gave in 1911. Perhaps the most important explanation for the House of Cartier's leanings towards such motifs was the fact that Louis Cartier was an avid collector of Persian miniatures. The present buckle, with its Indo-Islamic palmette motifs, embodies perfectly the so called "Style Perse".