Two become one in the hands of Lorenzo Mattotti and Van Cleef & Arpels

Van Cleef Gallery
Left, Lorenzo Mattotti. Right, his illustrations for Van Cleef encapsulate movement, lightness and colour 
(Image credit: press)

Adding to the maison’s rich rollcall of artist collaborations, Nicolas Bos, CEO of Van Cleef & Arpels, was keen to find an artist who could unite the different facets of dance, drawing and high jewellery for the maison's 2019 high jewellery collection, ‘Romeo & Juliet'. Lorenzo Mattotti’s lauded comic book, animation and magazine works, for the likes of The New Yorker, Vanity Fair and Le Monde, caught Bos’ eye.

‘He has a colourful, poetical and contemporary style that was interesting to explore. He is a very singular artist,’ Bos says. His illustrations of classic literature, which respect the traditions of the text while bringing a new, contemporary identity, particularly impressed him. ‘This is what we were looking for in order to express the timeless relevance of Shakespeare’s words,’ Bos says, ‘alongside jewels that were more anchored in aesthetics from the Renaissance.’


Left, Giardino transformable pendant, a carved Colombian emerald. Right, Giardino transformable long necklace in white and rose gold with sapphire beads, emeralds and diamonds

(Image credit: press)

For the resulting illustrations, Mattotti was free to develop his own narrative designs, inspired by the jewellery but not restricted by it. ‘There is a link between the colours of the designs and the jewellery; keeping this range of colours was mandatory, but the theme was very free,’ he says. ‘I did a whole series of drawings in a sketchbook, and they chose the ones they liked the most. It was very simple and natural.’ His drawings, as well as depicting the famous scenes between the young lovers in high jewellery hues, also play with movement and lightness. They nod, also, to Van Cleef & Arpels' support of Benjamin Millepied’s new ballet, Roméo et Juliette, the dancers’ costumes of which will be inspired by Mattotti’s drawings.

‘The idea was not to do Romeo and Juliet in Renaissance costumes as it was too obvious, but rather to draw them as if they were young people of our time, with modern clothes; more contemporary, up-to-date and colourful. For the play on the ballet, we really wanted to convey energy, joyful movement and a kind of lightness, the joy of knowing and discovering more about each other,’ says Mattotti.

The illustrator’s stories serve to highlight a new narrative of the jewellery collection itself, which is more abstract than figurative. ‘Each artistic discipline gives a different approach to the story. Drawings and dance, as much as jewellery craftsmanship, widen the vision of this universal love story. Mattotti’s romantic and benevolent portrayal of the lovers seems to us deeply connected to the Maison’s universe,’ Bos confirms.

Mattotti’s work

'Mattotti’s work offers a contemporary and tender vision of love that instills a genuine emotion. Its romantic and benevolent portrayal of the lovers seems to us deeply connected to the maison’s universe,' says Van Cleef & Arpels CEO Nicolas Bos

(Image credit: press)

Night or Day necklace

Night or Day necklace clip in white gold with emerald-cut sapphire

(Image credit: press)

Lorenzo Mattotti's illustrations

Lorenzo Mattotti's illustrations use a colour palette inspired by the jewels themselves

(Image credit: press)


Hannah Silver is the Art, Culture, Watches & Jewellery Editor of Wallpaper*. Since joining in 2019, she has overseen offbeat design trends and in-depth profiles, and written extensively across the worlds of culture and luxury. She enjoys meeting artists and designers, viewing exhibitions and conducting interviews on her frequent travels.