The Power of Motif
Few icons of design and fashion have stood the test of time as well as Cartier’s Panthère which has been reimagined in countless ways for more than a century. The iconic great feline first appeared in Cartier’s imagery in 1914 on an invitation but also as a scintillating diamond and onyx wristwatch, the onyx emulating the alluring fur pattern of the panther.
At the time, the panther was becoming a popular motif in both fashion and home décor. Animals were not new to jewelry, but the strength, grace and power of the big cats captured the mood in Paris following World War I. By the Art Deco period, Cartier was incorporating panthers into watches, jewelry and small accessories. The real showstopper came in 1948 when Jean Toussaint, the Head of Creation at Cartier, created a three dimensional Panthère brooch for the Duchess of Windsor, Wallis Simpson. Created in the round and encrusted with diamonds and sapphires, the great cat sits perched atop a 152.35 carat sapphire cabochon, the brooch and the Panthère symbolic of the sleek elegance of the Cartier brand.
The Panthère has remained a popular motif for jewelry and watches throughout the decades. In the 1980s, Cartier introduced quartz watches featuring the bold cat appealing to men such as Keith Richards and Pierce Brosnan. Other more modern iterations of the motif include the Cartier Panthère tassel necklace and or the abstract spotted pattern of the ‘Panthère de Cartier’ ring continue to illustrate that powerful, bold and distinct aesthetic of Cartier.