Step into the dazzling world of the Maison Cartier and its clients and discover the age of glamour and icons of style, as the National Gallery of Australia presents Cartier: The Exhibition, currently on display until 22 July 2018.
Exclusive to Canberra, the exhibition features more than 300 works of art, showcasing outstanding necklaces, brooches, tiaras, watches and ornaments, alongside rarely seen archival drawings, photographs and ephemera.
Co-curated by Margaret Young-Sánchez, formerly of Denver Art Museum and Simeran Maxwell, NGA Curator of International Art, along with the NGA team, the exhibition showcases pieces from the Cartier Collection, museums, institutions and private collectors.
“This exhibition is the most outstanding collection of important jewels Australia has ever seen, and is ever likely to see again,” said Gerard Vaughan, NGA Director. “This is an unmissable opportunity to see masterpieces of this craftsmanship and quality up close.”
The exhibition features pieces from turn-of-the-century opera star Dame Nellie Melba – Australia’s first global superstar – who was a major client of the Maison Cartier, which supplied other incredibly intricate ‘garland-style’ jewellery popular with European aristocracy.
Art Deco swept the world in the 1920s and Cartier’s designs led the way with its innovative style, such as the Duchess of Windsor’s trend-setting Flamingo brooch (1940) and original ‘It Girl’ Daisy Fellowes’ Tutti Frutti necklace (1936). Their spectacular designs took cues from sources around the world: including East Asia, India and Ancient Egypt. Cartier combined these influences into some of their most exotic jewellery designs.
During the Age of Glamour of 1930s to 1960s, the social, political and historic events demanded a new approach from the agile Cartier designers. That creativity continued with seminal femme fatale María Félix’s flamboyant Crocodile necklace (1975).
Central to the NGA’s Cartier exhibition is a group of beautiful items from the Royal collection, generously lent by Her Majesty The Queen, including a brooch with one of the most impressive pink diamonds in the world, jewellery worn and owned by Princess Margaret and Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother.
The exhibition also features the famous Indian Tiara owned by The Duchess of Gloucester, the Queen’s Halo Tiara (pictured) which she leant to Kate Middleton for her wedding to HRH Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, and many items that belonged to an array of European monarchs who were amongst Cartier’s most valued clients, including Her Serene Highness Princess Grace of Monaco – whose 10.48-carat diamond engagement ring (1956) was made by Cartier Paris.
“We are honoured to collaborate with the NGA on this exhibition,” said Pierre Rainero, Director of Image, Style and Heritage at Cartier. “The vision of Cartier’s creative force, Louis Cartier, is further realised by the aesthetic and content of this one-of-a-kind exhibition through its innovation and style in presenting not only the jewels, but also the social context surrounding their history.”
Established by Louis-François Cartier in 1847, his son, Louis joined his father as head of the family business in 1898. With his brothers, Jacques and Pierre Cartier, he expanded the jewellery empire to service the rich and famous the world over. Cartier has remained at the forefront of creative craftsmanship and innovative high jewellery design ever since.
In the 1970s, Cartier began to reassemble objects from its past collections: jewellery, watches, clocks and other precious accessories were collected for conservation, which led to the foundation of the Cartier Collection in 1983.
Today, the Cartier Collection comprises more than 1,600 items spanning from the 1860s to the 1990s. These pieces act as material records of Cartier’s more than 170-year history, while also providing a wider historical account of evolutions within the decorative arts and society.
Cartier: The Exhibition
National Gallery of Australia, Parkes Place, Parkes (Canberra)
Exhibition continues to 22 July 2018
Admission fees apply
For more information, visit: www.nga.gov.au for details.
Image: Cartier London, Halo tiara, 1936. platinum, diamonds 3 x 18 cm. Lent by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Royal Collection Trust/All Rights Reserved