An unusual hand painted Art Deco hair comb done in the Egyptian Revival style
CONDITION: good vintage condition
SIZE: 3½ ins h x 3½ ins w (8 x 8 cm) decorative part 1½ ins h (4 cm)
APPROXIMATE DATE: 1910s – 1920s
MATERIALS: French ivory
Here is an unusual French ivory comb done in the Egyptian Revival style. The ornament is made from an early celluloid substance, popularly known as French ivory, because it was invented to substitute for the much more expensive elephant ivory which was becoming rare and expensive by the early 20th century. It contains no materials from an endangered species.
The design has a figural head placed between two representations of papyrus flowers and is hand painted in red, green and blue with the addition of small goldtone metal studs.
Egyptian style costume was often worn in popular glamour photographs by famous actresses of the day. The collage picture includes similar some examples taken from contemporary photographic sources of the early 20thy century.
The taste for the exotic was given a fresh impetus by the discovery of the tomb of the boy king Tutankhamun in the early 1920s. The stunning treasures were an inspiration to designers in media of all forms. The development of early Hollywood also encouraged the Egyptian look, with Theda Bara who took the role of Cleopatra in 1917 and Claudette Colbert who played the same part in 1934. There was no attempt to reproduce genuine Egyptian ornaments, and the designs were a pastiche featuring Egyptian type motifs such as scarab beetles or the heads of pharaohs, or featuring typical Egyptian materials such as faux turquoise, coral or lapis lazuli.
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