January 14, 2018

Cartier: The Exhibition @ NGA - National Gallery of Australia, Canberra

Cartier: The Exhibition
NGA - National Gallery of Australia, Canberra
March 30 — 22 July, 2018

Cartier Paris
Two crocodile brooches 1975
gold, 1023 brilliant-cut fancy intense yellow diamonds,
two navette-shaped emerald cabochons, 
1060 emeralds, two ruby cabochons
30 cm and 27 cm (l. each)
Collection Cartier © Cartier 
Photo: Nick Welsh

The unmissable Cartier: The Exhibition features more than 300 examples of masterpieces by Cartier, charting the prestigious Paris jewellery house throughout 20th century history. The exhibition provides 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.

Cartier Paris  
Stomacher brooch 1907
platinum, one pear-shaped sapphire,
seven cushion-shaped sapphires,
round old- and rose-cut diamonds,
millegrain setting
21 x 13 cm 
Collection Cartier © Cartier 
Photo: Vincent Wulveryck

The exclusive 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.

Cartier Paris 
Brooch 1907
platinum, round old- and rose-cut diamonds, 
millegrain setting
3.8 x 3.8 cm 
Collection Cartier © Cartier 
Photo: Vincent Wulveryck

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’ DaisyFellowes’ 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.

Cartier London 
Rose clip brooch 1938
platinum, baguette-, round-old- and 
single-cut diamonds
7 x 4 cm 
Collection Cartier © Cartier 
Photo: Nick Welsh

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).

Cartier Paris
Necklace, bracelet and pair of earrings 1951 
platinum, gold, brilliant-, baguette-, 
modified baguette- and fancy-cut diamonds, 
cushion-shaped and round faceted Burmese rubies
37 cm (l. necklace); 6.2 cm (l. bracelet at c.); 
6 cm (l. earrings)
Collection Cartier © Cartier 
Photo: Marian Gérard

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, are on display in Canberra.

The exhibition also includes 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.

Cartier London  
Halo tiara 1934
platinum, round old- and baguette-cut diamonds
4 cm (height)
Collection Cartier © Cartier
Photo: Nils Herrmann

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.

The NGA exhibition demonstrates 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.

Exhibition organised in association with the Denver Art Museum.