Alexis Falize and the Eclectic Opulence of the Second Empire

drawing of design for a golden brooch with cabochon emeralds
Drawing, Design for a Gold and Cabochon Gem Brooch, ca. 1855; Designed by Alexis Falize (French, 1811–1898); France; brush and gouache, gum varnish over graphite on tan wove paper; 45.7 x 35.6 cm (18 x 14 in.); Cooper Hewitt Museum purchase through gift of Mrs. Gustav E. Kissel; 1950-6-1.

With the ascension of Napoleon III in 1852, Second Empire France had a revival of court life. The stability of the new imperial regime and a buoyant economy brought exhibitions, grand balls, and stage productions to the forefront of Parisian lifestyle. An increased interest in the arts paved the way for a variety of aesthetic experimentation in the decorative arts, particularly in jewelry, giving rise to a new, opulent and eclectic style, grounded on a varied mix of revivals of historical styles.


Beltran-Rubio, Laura. “Alexis Falize and the Eclectic Opulence of the Second Empire.” Cooper Hewitt: Object of the Day. 25 August 2017.

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