The Palace Museum
4 Jingshan Qianjie
Imperial Splendours: The Art of Jewellery since the 18th Century
Until 2nd July 2017
The Forbidden City has always been a home to treasures. As the imperial residence for five hundred years, the palace collected items through tributes and trade. These came not only from across China and neighbouring countries: exquisite arts and crafts also came from the West, of which items from France, Britain and other European countries are the most common. The Palace Museum houses a wealth of western artefacts, including a variety of instruments, timepieces, weaponry, jewellery, brocade, tableware, and toys. The dazzling arrays of objects are evidence of the continuous trading activities and cultural exchanges between the East and West through various channels, via overland or maritime routes, even during the so-called closed-door period.
As the world entered the modern era, the Chinese civilization retained a unified empire over a vast territory,and spread its influence to neighbouring countries. At the same time, France was on the ascendant in the West,dazzling Europe. To illustrate these glorious pages of history, the Palace Museum exhibition Emperor Kangxi of China(1662-1722) was held in France at the Palace of Versailles, as part of a year of cultural exchange between China and France in 2004 and 2005. The Palace Museum also hosted a reciprocal loan show, Louis XIV, the Sun King. This special exhibition was held in the newly renovated Meridian Gate (Wu men), and was the first exhibition to take place in the great hall following its renovation. The Chinese then Premier Wen Jiabao and French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin cut the ribbon at the opening ceremonies for these two exhibitions. In 2008,the Meridian Gate hosted another exhibition, Napoleon et le Louvre, the first cooperative exhibition between the Palace Museum and the Louvre Museum. Over more than a decade, the Palace Museum has also held wonderful cooperative exhibitions with museums of Sweden, Britain, Russia, Spain, Belgium, Germany, the United States, and India. Now, the Meridian Gate welcomes Chaumet, one of the most time-honoured names in the French jewellery industry, for an exhibition bringing together East and West and offering a splendid feast for our eyes.
Subtitled “The Art of Jewellery Since the 18th Century”, the title of this exhibition was chosen by its curator, quoting a poem from Airs of the States — a section of the Book of Songs. The verse describes how a bride attentively looks at her groom, dressed up for the wedding, as he enters the room. Her eyes sparkle with joy and hope. This elegant classical poem places Chaumet’s bridal jewellery collection in a Chinese cultural setting.
The jewellery in this exhibition bears witness to the most splendid royal coronations in French history, and to the wedding of Napoleon and his empress Joséphine. Despite social revolutions, the evolution of fashion, the rise and fall of dynasties, and crises and wars over past two hundred years, Chaumet has passed down its superb craftsmanship from generation to generation, seeking excellence in every historical period. While closely examining the beauty of these artworks, visitors will at the same time be struck by this spirit of craftsmanship.
Across the Forbidden City’s five hundred years of history, court craftsmen worked by imperial order to create countless fine and exquisite objects. The masterpieces of the Imperial Workshop not only account for a good part of the Palace Museum collection but also enrich many other museum collections worldwide. For the Palace Museum to pass down the historical glory of the Forbidden City, it needs to use this outstanding spirit of craftsmanship,to search for and draw on the essence of tradition, to preserve and continue the craftsmanship of imperialvirtuosos, and to strive for continuous refinement. The true spirit of craftsmanship is a tireless dedication to excellence stretching across the decades, looking beyond practical concerns and personal benefit. This is the call of the times as well as the most valuable spirit for China’s present development.
One interesting feature of this exhibition is a parallel display of Chinese-style artefacts from the Chaumet collection and items from the Palace Museum collection. The exhibits from the Chaumet collection, including tea sets, folding fans, and jade carvings, reflect the influence of eastern lifestyles and aesthetics on the West. In contrast, the display also reveals the Qing imperial family’s fondness for western timepieces and ornaments. This part of the exhibition has been deliberately designed to allow a lively dialogue across time and space, showing similarities and differences in techniques, aesthetic ideals, symbolic imagery and creative experiences between the East and the West.
As a major reservoir of traditional Chinese art and culture, the Palace Museum is striving to become more accessible to broader audiences so as to serve society and to pave the path to the future, fulfilling its mission to protect cultural heritage and to disseminate culture. We have been focusing on bridging the traditional and the modern, the East and the West, scholarly discernment and popular taste. We have also consistently employed new technology to create a multi-level and multi-dimensional platform.Each exhibition, each publication, each media release, each educational activity, and each renovation of the historic architecture, is intended to introduce more of the essence of the past to modern society and to serve the public.
From the Place Vendôme in Paris to the Forbidden City in Beijing, Chaumet has brought us the supreme elegance and exquisiteness of France. I wish great success for this exhibition and hope Chaumet enjoys great popularity in China!
Opening hours: 8:30 to 17:00
Admission: Unknown - Check website
http://en.dpm.org.cn/exhibitions/curren ... /2602.html