Time and again, poets have turned to the jeweller’s art to capture the essence of the British landscape. Surely no lines are more famous, or more quoted, than John of Gaunt’s speech in Shakespeare’s Richard II, comparing England – “this sceptred isle” – to “a precious stone set in a silver sea”.
It is a compliment that Boodles has returned in its latest jewellery collection, The Poetry of Landscape. All the designs are inspired by Britain’s natural glory, as refracted through the sensibilities of its greatest poets, painters and sculptors.
In the suites of jewellery that make up the collection – among them Spring Green, Woodland and Waterlily – precious gemstones evoke the shapes and colours that are revealed by the passing seasons. Green tourmalines, soft blue aquamarines and yellow beryls hint at lush foliage, rushing water and vivid flowers.
It is tempting to detect echoes of William Wordsworth and his evocations of the Lake District. In Daffodils, one of English literature’s most anthologised poems, he compares the golden flowers to the lake waters and judges that the daffodils “out-did the sparkling waves in glee”. A more muted palette is associated with the poems of AE Housman, whose “blue remembered hills” signify the Shropshire of his youth.
But there are glimmers of more vibrant colour throughout his greatest collection, A Shropshire Lad. One of its most celebrated poems wistfully recalls the golden broom shrubs bursting into bloom at Wenlock Edge, and the white hawthorn blossom that will “charge the land with snow”.
The great mystical poet William Blake created an epithet for England that matches the fame of Shakespeare’s. His preface to Milton: A Poem in Two Books – later set to music in the hymn Jerusalem – muses on the past and future of “England’s green and pleasant land”. To those more familiar with his apocalyptic paintings and prints, it can come as a surprise that Blake also drew simple countryside scenes around the Home Counties.
But when it comes to English landscape painting, three names tower above all others: Gainsborough, Turner and Constable. As a portraitist, Thomas Gainsborough was lauded for integrating his subjects with the scenes behind them, but later admitted that the landscapes interested him more than the people.
A generation later, JMW Turner did much to elevate landscape painting to a new level of eminence. He travelled widely in Europe, but English paintings – such as his portrayal of Norham Castle, in Northumberland – rank among his most reproduced works.
His near-contemporary John Constable created a compelling pastoral vision of rural England (and particularly the East Anglian countryside). Works such as The Hay Wain, Wivenhoe Park and Dedham Vale represent the apex of the Romantic movement in British art.
Many 20th-century artists moved toward greater abstraction, including the great First World War artist Paul Nash. Shattered by his experiences of trench warfare, he returned to England and took solace in the landscapes he knew from his youth.
Throughout his life, he produced many pictures of the Wittenham Clumps – twin wooded hills near Little Wittenham, Berkshire. In fact, the rolling landscapes and swaying trees of Nash’s works are a direct influence for the Wood on the Downs jewellery pieces in the new Boodles collection.
Henry Moore’s semi-abstract sculptures draw heavily on shapes from the landscape such as rocks, hills and trees. Many of his monumental bronzes were intended for outdoor display, to become one with their setting: walk among his works at Yorkshire Sculpture Park, and it can be seen how they have been weathered by the elements to a pale green hue.
Their colour and shape provided inspiration for the Malham Rock suite of jewellery, along with the dramatic limestone formations of the Yorkshire Dales. It is an example of how Boodles has seamlessly weaved together the grandeur of nature and the highest degree of artistic endeavour.
The spirit of the English countryside
Fine British jeweller Boodles was established over two centuries ago in Liverpool. Today, the brand still prides itself on its craftsmanship, unique designs and excellent service.
To find out more about engagement rings, necklaces, earrings or bracelets, visit boodles.com