Michael AYRTON (1921-1975)
Gold Acrobat Bracelet, c. 1960
Unique 18ct cast gold sculptural hinged bracelet of two male acrobats holding hands and with their feet touching together, fastened by a gold per on a safety chain inserted between the feet. Designed by Ayrton and execute by the London jeweller John Donald.
Marks: JAD hallmark of John Donald
Dimensions: Internal D. 5.3 x 4.6 cm; W. 0.8-1.5 cm
Provenance: Dame Elizabeth Taylor (sold at Christie's New York, December 2011)
Literature: Martine Newby Haspeslagh, Art to Wear. Jewellery by Post-War Painters and Sculptors, Didier Ltd, London 2012, p. 12, no. 7
A photograph of a metal prototype of this bracelet is preserved in the archives of the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths, London, amongst jewels under consideration for inclusion in the ground-breaking International Exhibition of Modern Jewellery organised by Graham Hughes in conjunctions with the Victoria and Albert Museum in 1961. This exhibition was an attempt to revitalise the British jewellery industry after the Second World War and with 901 exhibits, it was the first time that work by international artists could be compared alongside those by commercial jewellers.
This bracelet, however, was never included in the exhibition. How Elizabeth Taylor came to acquire the gold bracelet is not known, but she was in London in 1960/1961 filming Cleopatra, while Ayrton, who also moved in acting and literary circles, was an old friend of Nigel Baldachin, one of the film's original script writers, and had by this time married Elisabeth Baldachin.