The ‘Cartier and Women’ organised by the Hong Kong Palace Museum (HKPM) is the first major exhibition to highlight women’s role and presence in Cartier’s history. Ongoing since April 14th, the exhibition features three hundred stunning items of Cartier jewellery, timepieces, precious objects, and archival records from the nineteenth century to the present day.
Through this exhibition, Cartier celebrates women’s lifestyles, creativity, and influence. This is realised through a series of captivating narratives that reflect Cartier’s deep connections with many influential women throughout history and in the present day. The exhibition presents four thematic sections demonstrating the Museum’s innovative curatorial approach and vision of advancing dialogue among world civilisations and different disciplines. This also explores the close relationship between women, jewellery, and fashion.
The Cartier and Woman exhibition also highlights Cartier’s impact on Chinese art and the rest of the world. It becomes a testament to the Museum’s mission to facilitate dialogue among world civilisations. Particularly, how Chinese art has inspired Cartier in design, style, decorative motif, technique and material. And also how Chinese aesthetics have influenced women’s lifestyles and global fashion in general.
The Cartier Collection includes pieces dating from as early as the 1850s until the recent 2000s. These pieces reflect Cartier’s journey over 170-year history of style and creativity. It also provides a wider historical account of evolutions within the decorative arts and society since the end of the 19th century. With approximately 3,500 pieces and still growing, the Cartier Collection has shown selections of its pieces at some of the world’s most renowned institutions.
Tiara (Princess Maria Bonaparte 1882-1962)
According to the Cartier Archives, this tiara was originally a comb to be placed at the back of the head. One could wear it as a bandeau as well. Cartier used platinum, diamonds and pearls to create this tiara. It was part of Princess Marie Bonaparte’s trousseau for her wedding to Prince George of Greece and Denmark in 1907. Its olive branch motif is a nod to Prince George’s family’s Greek heritage. They later transformed into a tiara.
Bib Necklace (Duchess of Windsor 1896-1986)
Cartier created the bib necklace using gold, platinum, amethysts, and turquoise. It was a special order from the Duke of Windsor (1894–1972), who supplied all the gems except the turquoise. And the Duchess wore it when the couple attended a charity ball in Versailles in 1953. Adoring the amethyst and turquoise combination, the Duchess ordered additional pieces made from these gemstones.
Panther Clip Brooch (Duchess of Windsor 1896-1986)
Accessories with motifs of predatory beasts, like the panther, were previously unimaginable for high-society women. We can credit Cartier’s Creative Director Jeanne Toussaint (1887-1976) with creatively transforming the panther into a symbol of women’s strong personalities and rising status.. Artisans created this brooch using platinum, white gold, diamonds, and sapphires. And it represents the animal in its entirety and was the second three-dimensional panther piece Cartier designed for the Duchess after she acquired it in 1948. Poised and powerful, the panther mounting on the striking sapphire gives the brooch full volume. This brooch became an iconic piece for both the Duchess and Cartier.
Chinese Vanity Case
The garden scene with a lady on the inlaid plaque is modelled upon a Chinese famille verte porcelain plate produced during the Qing Kangxi period (1662–1722). This was part of Louis Cartier’s (1875–1942) personal collection. Fitted with a mirror, the vanity case has a lipstick holder at the centre and two lidded powder compartments. This creation used gold, platinum, mother-of-pearl, coral, sapphires, turquoise, onyx, aventurine, jade, emerald matrix, emeralds, diamonds, and black enamel.
To accompany this exhibition, the Hong Kong Palace Museum will offer a wide variety of educational programmes. This ranges from scholarly lectures to film screenings, music and dance performances, and art-making workshops. This exhibition is open to the public till 14th August 2023.