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  • Kristian Haagen

Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Tribute Enamel Hidden Treasures

In 2021, marking 90 years since the birth of Reverso, Jaeger-LeCoultre introduces Reverso Tribute Enamel Hidden Treasures, a trio of watches that celebrates the work of three great masters from the dawn of Modern Art: Gustave Courbet, Vincent Van Gogh and Gustav Klimt. The new timepieces also unite three distinct artisanal skills practised within the Manufacture Jaeger-LeCoultre: grand feu enamel, miniature painting and guillochage – the latter executed on century-old, hand-turned machines.

The three paintings reproduced in the Reverso Tribute Enamel Hidden Treasures triptych represent three markers of a major watershed in the Western artistic tradition, from the 19th-Century Realism of Courbet, to Van Gogh's Post-Impressionism, to the expressive and experimental spirit of Klimt and the Viennese Secession. To honour the Reverso's unique ability to hide or reveal the artistic treasure created on its reverse side, the Manufacture's researchers identified three beautiful paintings that had been hidden from the world for many decades – assumed to have been lost forever until rediscovered and authenticated in recent years.

Exiled from his native France in 1873, Gustave Courbet settled near Vevey, on the shore of Switzerland’s Lake Léman (Lake Geneva), where he was inspired by the constantly changing views across the water. In this beautifully atmospheric work, Courbet has captured the movement of the clouds and the sunlight on the lake’s surface.

Reproducing a major portion of the work for the Reverso Tribute Enamel Hidden Treasures, Jaeger-LeCoultre’s master enameller has perfectly captured the delicate colour palette, fine details and evocative atmosphere of the original. The soft tones of the painting are perfectly complemented by the gleaming white gold case, and by the subtle herringbone guilloché texture of the misty grey-blue dial.

After moving to the South of France in 1888, Van Gogh experimented with new styles of visual expression. Painted directly from life on a summer evening, Sunset at Montmajour is an example of the artist’s quest to portray nature in new ways – capturing the distinctive vegetation of Provence and the rich colours of the ‘golden hour’ just before sunset.

For the Reverso Tribute Enamel Hidden Treasures, Jaeger-LeCoultre’s master enameller faithfully reproduces the strong sense of perspective of the original, as well as the effect of the artist’s characteristic brushstrokes and heavy impasto. The distinctive shade of green enamel chosen for the sunray-guilloché dial provides an elegant counterpoint to the rich gold and russet tones of the painting.

Painted by Gustav Klimt a year before the end of his life, Portrait of a Lady is the only known ‘double’ portrait by the Viennese artist, painted over an earlier work. Klimt had fallen madly in love with a young woman who became his muse, then suddenly died. Attempting to ease the pain of his loss, he painted over her portrait with a new one, of a different lady. Reproduced in miniature on the case back of the Reverso Tribute Enamel Hidden Treasures, Portrait of a Lady captures the same dreamy quality that Klimt had created. The subject’s elegant pose and fashionable outfit are reproduced in perfect detail, and the green tones of the background create an illusion of depth, just as in the original. The green dial, decorated with grand feu enamel over a fine barleycorn guilloché pattern, beautifully evokes the luminescent quality of the portrait’s background.

Having established its own in-house enamelling atelier in the 1990s – to this day, one of the very few Manufactures to have done so – Jaeger-LeCoultre began in 1996 to reproduce the works of major artists from Europe and Asia on the tiny scale of the Reverso case back.

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