The National Gallery of Australia will exclusively present Cartier: The Exhibition from March 30, showcasing more than 300 objects produced by the Maison Cartier throughout the twentieth century. The selection of jewellery, timepieces and precious objects reveals a captivating evolution of taste and design in the wake of social, political and economic global trends.
'Jewels of spectacular calibre and size, amongst the most important in the world, magnificently set by Cartier’s renowned craftsmen will be exhibited only in Canberra,' said NGA Director Gerard Vaughan. ‘It is a collection of immeasurable quality and value, the likes of which have never been seen in this country before, and may never be again. Years of research and gentle persuasion will deliver an unforgettable experience for Australians.’
‘Cartier represents the poetic amalgamation of art, passion and style. Jewellery is a language of love, and this exhibition, organized by the NGA, represents a gift of love to the Australian people,’ said Pierre Rainero, Image, Style and Heritage Director, Cartier.
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 her incredibly intricate ‘garland-style’ jewellery popular with European aristocracy.
Art Deco swept the world in the 1920s and Cartier’s designs led the way with its innovative geometric style. During this time, Cartier’s spectacular designs took cues from sources around the world: including East Asia, India and Ancient Egypt. The exhibition features exotic pieces such as the Duchess of Windsor’s trend-setting Flamingo brooch (1940) and original ‘It Girl’ Daisy Fellowes’ Tutti Frutti necklace (1936).
During the 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).
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, will be on display in Canberra.
The exhibition will also include 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 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. The exhibition will be accompanied by a fully-illustrated hardcover catalogue, available at the NGA Shop and online at the time of the exhibition.
Cartier: The Exhibition opens 30 March until 22 July. Tickets available from Ticketek.
Top image: Cartier London Necklace 1932, special order, platinum, diamonds, emerald, 8.8 cm (height at centre), Photo: Vincent Wulveryck, Cartier Collection, © Cartier