Chaumet's Tokyo Show Is A Must-See For Jewellery Lovers
Tokyo has a potent aesthetic when it comes to fashion and jewellery. It’s a city and a culture to which the world has frequently looked for inspiration. Hence Chaumet’s choice of the Japanese capital for the second exhibition of its grand tour of the Far East, following up on last year’s Imperial Splendors, which was staged at the Palace Museum in Beijing’s Forbidden City.
"The World of Chaumet: The Art of Jewellery Since 1780" is a visual dialogue between jewellery and artistic movements, and between historic and contemporary pieces, brought together under the direction of the Louvre’s honorary president, Henri Loyrette, and the founding director of the Mitsubishi Ichigokan Museum, Akiya Takahashi.
See also: The Liens De Chaumet Collection
It comprises 300 objects gathered over the past two years from 40 private collectors and 15 museums, as well as 200 prototypes of the tiaras the 238-year-old house is famous for creating. Recently opened, the exhibition is drawing jewellery lovers from across the continent to the Tokyo institution and can be seen until September 17.
With this collection of exquisite objets, the French house pays tribute to the culture of Japan, with which it has had strong ties since the late 18th century. From the Ancien Régime to today, taking in the Japonism movement of the belle époque, Japan and France have been intertwined culturally and artistically, and Chaumet intends to continue that tradition.
“We picked Tokyo to hold this exhibition because Japan is a historical market,” says Jean-Marc Mansvelt, the CEO of Chaumet, who expects this show to be even more popular than the Beijing exhibition, which drew half a million people to the Palace Museum.
“Chaumet has been in Japan for more than 30 years. And, of course, Japan is very important for all luxury goods; it is a market that’s very demanding in terms of refinement and quality.”
The show is organised around themes. One room focuses on nature, another displays portraits of Chaumet’s most loved clients and muses—including Napoleon’s two wives, Joséphine and Marie-Louise. Marie Antoinette also makes an appearance in the form of her Japanese lacquerware.
“Through this exhibition, we want to communicate the richness and the depth of Chaumet, so it’s going to be slightly less chronological than what we did in the Forbidden City. Instead, it’s going to be more through different themes, different angles,” says Mansvelt. “Likewise, through key characters and key people of Chaumet.”
As well as the brand’s famous female muses, the exhibition highlights the beauty of the natural world and the important role it plays in jewellery design. “This angle is very meaningful for Japan,” says Mansvelt. “For us, the role of nature and how the style and the nature theme is interpreted is very important; we do it differently to other brands.”
Amid all the dazzling royal links and references to the beauty of the natural world, however, the exhibition’s highlight is of a more religious nature—the 1811 tiara Chaumet created for Pope Pius VII, which is on loan from the Vatican.
This extraordinary piece, topped with a diamond cross and a 114-carat emerald, was a present from Napoleon himself and was given to the pope a few months after he presided over the coronation of Napoleon and Joséphine in 1805.
“The masterpiece of the exhibition is this gift from Napoleon to the pope,” says Mansvelt. “It’s a really big piece given right after the coronation. This piece was ordered at Chaumet by Napoleon, and then delivered by our founder to the pope. Since then it’s been part of the Vatican treasure and not visible to the public.”
Which means that history buffs will join jewellery lovers in finding this exhibition utterly entrancing.
The World of Chaumet: The Art of Jewellery Since 1780 runs until September 17 at Tokyo’s Mitsubishi Ichigokan Museum.
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