The Palais des Beaux-Arts in Paris and the House of Chaumet celebrate nature with an exhibition in which 300 works of art interact with hundreds of gems, drawings and models of nature. great Escape.
If, since the dawn of time, nature has been the favorite subject of jewelers, Chaumet has made it their signature, or more precisely the link between the past, present and future of the company. According to a detailed semiotic study, between 1780 and 1987, 60% of the brand’s 55,000 final drawings were drawings from nature as its subject matter. As for the 350,000 glass negatives representing jewelry made and illustrated since 1885, half of them have to do with plants. “Marie Étienne Netot, founder of the Maison in 1780, identified himself as a natural jeweler,” says Jean-Marc Mansvelt, CEO of the company. In our history nature is central. As such, Chaumet’s view is similar to that of a botanist. »
Therefore, it is Marc Janson, former head of the National Herbarium of the National Museum of Natural History in Paris, and current director of the flora of the Majorelle Garden in Marrakech, who has been entrusted with the task of curating this exhibition. The idea was to build a “Végétal. School of Beauty “like a herbarium made up of the species represented in the adornment of Chaumet. The result is a collection organized according to the identity of the plants, not according to historical or chronological criteria. During the course, plants appear within the landscape in which they co-exist: the forest, the foreshore, the pond, the wheat field… “The goal was to weave a story between these different prisms that amplify nature, explains Adrien Gaarder, scenographer of the exhibition. We wanted to show that This view of plants is not unique to botanists and artists, and that simile games appear near objects but also in sedimentation, and their memory.”
The great strength of this “school of beauty” lies precisely in the diversity of its material. Paintings, drawings, photographs, furniture, textiles, and works placed in correspondence with objects and gouache gems cover almost the entire artistic spectrum. “We wanted to cross different universes, to make the observation of plants fit into other disciplines, because our profession is closely linked to other forms of artistic creativity,” continues Jean-Marc Mansvelt. This concept allows the visitor to roam freely through the cascading landscape, passing from a survey of a mural of a palm tree dating back nearly five thousand years to a contemporary photograph of a lone reed by Robert Mapplethorpe taken in 1983.
In the home of the hireling, where wheat grows, dazzling tiaras by Marie-Etienne Nitot cover the shoulders of the field by Raoul Dufy, and a jacket embroidered with Yves Saint Laurent’s ears. Elsewhere, the image of Joseph Chaumet’s iris was so subtle that the flowers appear to be emerging from the glass plate where they were immortalized. The contrast is strong with the watery heft of “Iris” painted by Claude Monet in 1924-1925 and the emotion unleashed by these three 17th-century chips. In the space for Mille Flores, the monumental tapestry from Pistoia’s Viscovite Palace, dating from the 16th century, is next to two paintings by Giuseppe Arcimboldo, “Spring” and “Summer”, as well as a stately Bedford wreath drawn by Jean-Baptiste Vossen in 1830 and accompanied by drawings of facades Repulsed from the end of the nineteenth century.
Jussieu’s drawings, Paul Hermann’s unusual herbarium or even Le Corbusier’s drawings of ivy are all items worth discovering, as they have been shown quite a bit. In the same way projects, drawings, gouache, models made of nickel silver predate the creation of the jewel and whose existence the general public is not aware of.
This juxtaposition of heritage works and the jewelry industries can reveal unexpected aesthetic dialogues. Like the one that appears among the water-lily flowers collected from the mummy of Ramses II – the world’s oldest dried plant – and a water-lily bracelet designed by Jean-Baptiste Vossen from the 1830s. Or this silent and physical exchange of crown with carnations from 1905, against two portraits of the same flower by Bartolomeo Pembi in 1699 and Henri Fantin-Latour in 1877, and a carnation brooch from 2019. A must-see.