The panther, arguably one of the most recognised symbols of the House of Cartier, was adopted after the First World War by Jeanne Toussaint, the muse of Louis Cartier. The sleek, swift, elusive feline became the height of fashion during this age. The famed actress Sarah Bernhardt was often sighted walking her gold-and-pearl collared panther in the streets of Paris. Toussaint, who was made responsible for all of Cartier's original jewellery in 1934, was obsessed with these cats. Her appartment was filled with their skins and she wore panther coats from the famed furrier, Revillon. During a trip to Africa with Cartier, the sight of a panther pursuing its prey provided her with the inspiration that was to prove pivotal to the House's creations of the period, "As soon as I saw it, I exclaimed, 'Onyx, diamonds, emeralds ... what a marvelous piece!'" Since that day, the panther, whose form lends itself perfectly to jewellery design, has been worn by such society legends as Woolworth heiress, Barbarah Hutton, and the Duchess of Windsor. After Toussaint perfected its creation in diverse three-dimensional forms such as the present brooch, she then fashioned variations on the theme such as earclips (Lots 66 and 119). Still incorporated into the House's current production, the panther has proven a timeless, extremely chic motif.
Gilberte Gautier, "Cartier's Cats", Franco Maria Ricci, January/February 1988, Milan
Franco Cologni and Eric Nussbaum, "Cartier: Le Joaillier du Platine", La Bibliothèque des Arts, Paris, 1995