Templier (Est.1849 – 1968) While the Templier family of France had a long, distinguished history as fine jewelers, it was Raymond Templier (1891-1968), grandson of founder Charles Templier (1821-1884), who brought lasting renown to the family firm and name.
Charles Templier established the jewelry business that became Templier et Fils at 66, Rue de Rivoli, Paris in 1849. In 1891 Raymond Jean Desire Templier was born. His mother was the cousin of the famous cityscape painter Eugene Béjot. Some suggest that Raymond had art in his blood from birth since he was always drawing.
As Raymond grew older he saw Maison Templier attend many exhibitions including Glasgow, Turin, and Casablanca where it won medals and awards. When Raymond’s grandfather died, Paul Templier (????-1948), Charles’ son and Raymond’s father, took over the business.
In 1909, Raymond entered the Ecôlé Nationale Superieure des Arts Décoratifs at the Louvre in Paris. In 1911, he traveled to Venice before graduating in 1912. For the next few years, Raymond spent a lot of his time designing. During World War I (1914-1918) Raymond was not sent to the front because of his asthma. Instead he translated and chauffeured for political figures and put his personal plans and aspirations on hold.
In 1919, Raymond entered the family business. However, he was not interested in the kind of traditional jewelry that Maison Templier had been producing. While his earlier, innovative designs were not yet Cubist, he was interested in the images that were coming out of Cubism-and he wanted to translate Cubist ideas into jewelry.
In 1920, Templier started producing brooches in the Art Nouveau style as well as deco style geometric clips. Raymond loved to play with geometry and color contrasts making items wearable in as many positions and combinations as possible.
Raymond soon became an important figure during the Art Deco movement. His work moved well beyond the Art Deco style of other major jewelry houses. He drew inspiration for his geometric configurations from modern technology. He played with contrasts of matte and shiny surfaces, volumes and flat planes and used gemstones and metals to form his design instead of building the design around precious stones.
Templier transformed arcs, semi-circles and geometric forms into innovative designs. He was especially attracted to the simplicity of white and silver metals such as platinum and silver accented by diamonds. He paired them with onyx and other dark stones in stunning pieces. His fascination with light and volume led him to create some of the most sophisticated jewelry of his time. His designs were boldly geometric incorporating geometric stones and scatterings of diamonds against dark platinum fields.
In an article that appeared in Rapaport Magazine in August 2014, author Phyllis Schiller discussed the art of Raymond Templier with Audrey Friedman, co-owner, with her husband Haim Manishevitz, of New York City’s Primavera Gallery. “[Raymond developed] a new jewelry vocabulary,” said Friedman.
“What was interesting about someone like Raymond Templier and Jean Després and these other jewelry designers of the movement … is that they weren’t content to simply continue the popular designs. They were striving to create something different. The huge influence on their work was Cubism and then a little bit after that, the imagery of the machine age, the white metal surfaces, the polished curves. And this was very new and very different from what Art Nouveau jewelry looked like. This was … very, very revolutionary.”
Raymond’s sculpted perspective changed the way jewelry was perceived. Plains were simultaneously matte and reflective; geometry informed the overall composition and artistry. His drawings are quite beautiful and show his fascination with certain forms that recur in many of his designs.
At the six-month long Paris Exhibition of Decorative Arts and Industry in 1927, Raymond’s jewelry was recognized for its geometrical lines and look. It was during this time that he established his style of enamel and diamonds. He rarely set important stones unless a client presented a stone for him to design around.
With the stones he used in for his brooches, Templier showed his partiality for the perfect roundness and simplicity of cabochons. Among other bright hard stones, lapis lazuli, coral, malachite and chalcedony were his sources for polychromatic sculptures.
In 1928, the Autumn Salon showcased Templier’s cigarette cases, rings and cufflinks alongside the work of his contemporaries Fouquet and Gerard Sandoz.
During 1929, Marcel Percheron (1910-1991) joined the Templier firm as a draftsman. He trained in the same institute as Raymond and stayed with the firm until 1965.
Raymond became increasingly busy due to press interest in him and the firm. Around the same time, he also founded (along with René Herbst, Robert Mallet Stevens, Puiforcat, Helen and Henry Chareau) the Union des Artistes Modernes (UAM), where he managed a large part of the International Exhibitions of 1925 and 1937 in Paris.
Raymond would draw his creations and then give them to Percheron who improved them or arranged them as he was told. Together, the two men designed jewelry with rigorous geometric lines that were almost completely free of decorative ornamentation. It was during 1929 that Raymond registered a new maker’s mark P & RT – ‘Paul et Raymond Templier’ although his grandfather’s ‘CT’ was most commonly used.
Templier personally designed every piece of jewelry that bears his signature. The Templier mark is always inscribed.
From the 1930s through the 1940s, Raymond exhibited his jewelry in Germany, the United States and the England. By this time, he was producing pieces with egg shell filling and patterns, branching out and exploring new materials, and stunning his contemporaries by using exciting oriental methods.
In 1933, Templier was commissioned to produce boxing belts for the sport, some of which went to World Champion Marcel Thil and Flyweight Champion Maurice Dupuis. In 1944 Raymond produced sports trophies for basketball and tennis tournaments.
Templier continued to do some jewelry after World War II, but his inspiration was gone. He told his friends and colleagues that he had said everything that he had to say about Art Deco. In the years that followed, he could not bring himself to become successfully engaged in subsequent design movements.
Raymond retired in 1965 and Marcel Percheron had to move on finding a job at Langerock. In 1966, the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris hosted an exhibition called, The 20s, Art Deco/Bauhaus/Esprit Nouveau. For the exhibition Marcel Percheron reproduced some forty drawings that Templier donated to the Museum as well as five cigarette boxes. In 1968 Raymond Templier died.
Raymond Templier was one of a handful of pioneering jewelry artists who created dramatically avant-garde pieces that still resonate today. He was one of the most iconic designers during the Art Deco period especially for incorporating many Cubism motifs. He transformed arcs, semi-circles and geometric forms into his unique designs plus his fascination with light and volume led him to create some of the most sophisticated jewelry of the time.
While traditional jewelers used gemstones as the center of attraction, Templier took the same materials and abstracted them disguising their emblematic distinctions. In effect, he created art.
Where shadow lent tension and glitter refracted and illuminated, this was a combination of shadow and light that is not easy to accomplish when a piece is meant to shine. Yet this was Raymond’s self-directive, “A piece of jewelry is above all dark and light and not just sparkle.”
Perhaps the greatest compliment to Raymond Templier’s designs is that his jewelry’s appeal has stood the test of time. There are collectors who prize his work as well as a select group who understand and appreciate his design vision still considered avant-garde as well as very modern.