A series of 24 very similar orchid brooches were designed by George Paulding Farnham (1859-1927) for exhibition at the 1889 Exposition Universelle in Paris. The Paris Herald commented: “It is simply marvellous, the stamens being only the thinness of a hair, yet having two colours in enamel, while even the smallest part of the flower is reproduced.”
As well as impeccable workmanship, these brooches are remarkable for their botanical accuracy. Farnham would have had access to the Tiffany library which contained an impressive collection of illustrated botanical journals, as well as an array of dried and pressed botanical specimens.
With only a slight chip to the enamel to count against it, the hammer price at the auction on June 15, bid via thesaleroom.com, was €41,000 (£36,000), close to four times the estimate.