Crown and Glory
Prestige Hong Kong|May 2017

The “Forbidden City” plays host to an array of fine art and jewellery, and Chaumet’s aptly named Imperial Splendours exhibition.

P. Ramakrishnan

 

TRAVERSING BEIJING’S CLOGGED arteries is a travail known to many, but when you’re heading for the Palace Museum – once more evocatively known as the Forbidden City, with its aura of mystery – the sense of anticipation overrides the exasperation. Security checkpoints are cleared and we pass gardens of ... sakura? There’s no indication what flora blooms around the paths leading up to our destination, but rest assured, our route to the Hall of Supreme Harmony (Taihe Dian) looks postcard perfect. And then, finally, we reach the wing marked Treasure Gallery.

There are Chaumet signs plastered across several walls and venues, but upon first sight of the royal assemblage of diadems, tiaras, statement necklaces and coronation swords, no signage is necessary. The regal imprimatur is as clear-cut as the pebble-sized diamonds.

Under the direction of Henri Loyrette (the former director of the Musée d’Orsay and of Musée du Louvre, where he was also curator), the exhibition – Imperial Splendours – is built around Chaumet’s body of historic jewels, drawings and vast archives of riches. Imperial Splendours spans the history of the maison from the end of the 18th century to the beginning of the 21st in all its jewel-encrusted glory. Roughly 300 works, jewels, paintings, drawings and objets d’art illustrate Chaumet’s characteristic “art of jewellery”.

According to the brand’s officials, the project has been years in the making. Historians, curators and other talents from the Musée du Louvre, the Château de Fontainebleau and the Victoria and Albert Museum of London (among a long list of others) all collaborated to bring this mammoth project to fruition.

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