Historic Cartier Exhibition to open in Canberra in 2018

NGA Crocodile necklace - photo by Vincent Wulveryck, Cartier CollectionThe National Gallery of Australia have previewed the glitz and glamour of the forthcoming blockbuster, Cartier: The Exhibition with a sneak preview of several works from the Cartier Collection that will go on display in Australia for the first time in March 2018.

“Jewels of spectacular calibre and size, amongst the most important in the world, magnificently set by Cartier’s renowned craftsmen will be exhibited only in Canberra,’ said Gerard Vaughan, NGA Director. “It is a collection of immeasurable quality and value, the likes of which have never been seen in this country before, and may never be again. Years of research and gentle persuasion will deliver an unforgettable experience for Australians.”

Cartier: The Exhibition features more than 300 examples of masterpieces by Cartier, charting the prestigious Paris jewellery house throughout 20th century history. The exhibition will provide a window into the intimate world of Cartier’s famous international clients, including royalty, aristocrats and global socialites, to movie stars like Elizabeth Taylor whose platinum, gold and Burmese ruby necklace (1951) is synonymous with the iconic jeweller.

Exclusive to Canberra, 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, including a selection of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth’s personal favourites. Even the Queen’s Halo Tiara which she leant to Kate Middleton for her wedding to HRH Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, will be on display in Canberra.

The exhibition will also include 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.

The exhibition will demonstrate Cartier’s flexibility as it continues to be the purveyor of innovation and style, building a contemporary bridge from its iconic past into the future.Cartier is credited with creating the modern wristwatch made popular by some of the world’s leading men.

A variety of the Maison Cartier’s iconic watch designs are shown in the context of other ingenious items designed specifically for men. Insight into the inner workings of these intricate, ground-breaking designs is also explored through the workshop space.

“Cartier represents the poetic amalgamation of art, passion and style,” said Pierre Rainero, Image, Style and Heritage Director, Cartier. “Jewellery is a language of love, and this exhibition, organized by the NGA, represents a gift of love to the Australian people.”

“The jewelry was glorious, rippling red on blue like a painting.” – Dame Elizabeth Taylor

Cartier: The Exhibition
National Gallery of Australia, Parkes Place, Parkes (Canberra)
30 March – 22 July 2018
Admission fees apply

For more information, visit: www.nga.gov.au for details.

Image: Crocodile necklace made as a special order for María Félix, Cartier Paris, special order, 1975. Cartier Collection. Photo: Vincent Wulveryck, Cartier Collection © Cartier