By Hannah Connorton
Women were not only the intended wearers of art jewelry during the 20th century but also an essential part of its creation, the Driehaus Museum said. This circa 1900 Mermaid brooch, included in the exhibition, was made by German artist KarlChicago--A showcase of art jewelry from the early 20th century now is on display at Chicago’s Driehaus Museum.

Called “Maker & Muse: Women and Early Twentieth Century Art Jewelry,” the exhibition is comprised of works drawn from the collection of the museum’s founder, Chicago businessman Richard H. Driehaus, who began collecting Art Nouveau and arts and crafts jewelry in the 1990s. 

Additional pieces also are being loaned from museums and private collectors across the country, including the Tiffany & Co. archives and the Chicago History Museum.

The exhibition will run through Jan. 3, 2016.

Maker & Muse offers more than 250 pieces of jewelry created between the late Victorian period and World War I, when artists created new styles in response to the growing industrialization of the world and the changing role of women in society.

This kind of work, characterized as being boldly artistic, detailed and inspired by nature, became known as art jewelry.

“The urge for a new aesthetic emerged simultaneously in many countries at the turn of the century,” said Maker & Muse Curator Elyse Zorn Karlin. “Art jewelry styles are as unique to the regions in which they were created, but together were defined by a rebellion against the strictures of the past and a look toward an exciting, less-encumbered future.”

The value of art jewelry lies in the artist’s vision and mastery of technique, as opposed to the sum value and size of precious metals and stones, according to Richard Driehaus. 

“Each of the works in the exhibition is truly a complete work of art in miniature,” he said.  

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