Florence Koehler – Jeweler from the Arts and Culture Movement

Posted: Tue, Oct 6th 2015, 00:30 | Updated: Tue, Oct 10th 2017, 04:43

Florence Koehler is regarded as one of the finest jewelers from the Arts and Culture Movement that was prominent during the late 19th Century and early 20th Century. Apart from being a jeweler, Koehler was also a master craftswoman, designer and potter.  

Early Life and Marriage

Florence Koehler (maiden surname Cary) was born in Jackson, Michigan on November 8, 1861 to Harriet (Banker) and Benjamin F. Cary. Not much is known about her childhood except for the fact that she grew up in Missouri where her father worked in the coal and grain business. She moved to Kansas City in 1881 and within a year married Frederick Koehler. By 1893, she was the head of the Ceramics Department at the Kansas City Art School. Soon after, the couple moved to Chicago. In Chicago, Florence Koehler exhibited her ceramics at the World’s Colombian Exposition and for a brief period ran an interior decorating business with a friend, a widow by the name of Mrs. E. W Sheridan. 

Moving Abroad and Venturing into Jewelry Making 

In December, 1895 she was appointed as the china decorator at the Rookwood Pottery, Cincinnati, Ohio. In early 1898, she left for London to study enameling and jewelry-making with Alexander Fisher. By the end of the year, with the support of her parents, she returned from Paris. For the next couple of years, she held classes in china painting and also started jewelry designing. She shared a studio with a friend, Miss Waite. By the early 1900s, she separated with her husband and also gave up the studio.

Florence Koehler ring

Soon she became the traveling companion for Emily Crane Chadbourne for a world trip. They finally settled in London where Koehler opened her studio in Kensington. Jewelry designing became a prominent occupation for Koehler by then and in 1910, she even exhibited her work along with William Rothenstein. During this period, her circle of acquaintances grew which included Augustus John, Henry James, Roger Quilter, Lady Ottoline Morrell, Alice (Stopford) Green, and Arthur B. Davies.  

Florence Koehler bangle

Florence Koehler jewelry.

By 1912, Florence quit London and moved to Paris. She started residing in a place called Place des Vosges where she befriended Henri Matisse and his family. By now, she had started concentrating in fine arts. It was during this time that she met arts patron Mary Elizabeth Sharpe.

Florence Koehler jewelry

Florence Koehler jewelry

By 1930s, she had moved to Rome, where she died on May 4, 1944 due to cancer. Koehler left everything to Sharpe who not only held a posthumous exhibition of her works but also donated a collection of jewelry and painting to the Rhode Island School of Design and the Everson Museum of Art, respectively.

Florence Koehler pendant

 

Design Aesthetics

Florence Koehler’s jewelry was widely appreciated for the leafy designs and informal groupings of gems. It was also seen that Koehler tailor-made jewelry pieces for a clients and was a fan of cabochons, pearls, unpolished gold and muted enamel. While staying in England, France and Italy, she was hugely inspired by the Renaissance designs.     

Florence Koehler pendant

 

REFERENCES

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Florence_Koehler

https://oasis.lib.harvard.edu/oasis/deliver/~sch00673

https://www.artprice.com/artist/215041/florence-koehler/biography

https://americanart.si.edu/collections/search/artist/?id=2677

More :

designer jewelryjewelry designerFlorence Koehlerdesigner

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