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Saturday, November 22, 2014

‘Brilliant: Cartier in the 20th Century’ At Denver Art Museum

Flamingo brooch worn by Duchess of Windsor. Cartier Paris, special order, 1940. Platinum, diamonds, emeralds, rubies, sapphires, citrine; Cartier Collection. Photo credit: Nils Herrmann

It was the most creative time for what is arguably the supreme international jeweler of the 20th Century.

Necklace worn by Elizabeth Taylor. Cartier Paris, 1951, altered in 1953. Platinum, diamonds, rubies. Cartier Collection. Photo credit: Vincent Wulveryck

The Denver Art Museum is the sole venue worldwide for “Brilliant: Cartier in the 20th Century,” on view till March 15, 2015. The exhibition contains more than 250 pieces of jewelry, timepieces and precious objects produced between 1900 and 1975. Most of the pieces are from the jeweler’s “Cartier Collection,” with items on loan from other museums and private collections.

Tiara worn by Mrs. Townsend Cartier. Cartier Paris, special order, 1905. Platinum, diamonds; Height at center 9.8 cm. Provenance: Mary Scott Townsend and Mrs. Donald McElroy. Cartier Collection. Photo credit: Vincent Wulveryck

Curated by Margaret Young-Sánchez, curator of the museum’s Frederick and Jan Mayer Center, the exhibition celebrates and chronicles the creative rise of Cartier in the 20th Century and its place in the dynamic history of the period.

Necklace worn by Countess of Granard. Cartier London, special order, 1932. Platinum, diamonds, emerald; Cartier Collection.  Photo credit: Vincent Wulveryck

It was a time when old world royalty was being replaced by democratically elected governments and when captains of industry, world class entertainers and a handful of politicians stood on equal terms with the old aristocracy. Cartier stood at the intersection of this cultural change and took a leadership role, creating jewelry, timepieces and objects of art for some of the most important and famous people of the period. The exhibition has items belonging to the Duchess of Windsor, Princess Grace of Monaco, Dame Elizabeth Taylor, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Mexican film star María Félix.

Engagement Ring worn by Princess Grace of Monaco.Cartier Paris, 1956. Platinum, one 10.48-carat emerald-cut diamond, two baguette- cut diamonds. Palais Princier de Monaco 

This is an exhibition for those who cherish Cartier’s most creative period when it was a family-owned firm (family members sold the business in 1964).

Crocodile Necklace made for Maria Félix.Cartier Paris, special order, 1975. Gold, diamonds, emeralds, rubies; Cartier Collection. Photo credit: Nick Welsh

“The evolution of Cartier takes us on a journey through 20th century history, from the era of the last czars in Russia to the Roaring ’20s in America to the onset of Hollywood glamour as we know it,” said Christoph Heinrich, director of the Frederick and Jan Mayer Center. “Focusing in on the creativity and pioneering vision of the Cartier brothers and their designers, visitors will walk away not only in awe of Cartier’s stunning works of art but also aware of the drastic cultural shifts that took place throughout the history of the maison.”

Laurel Leaf Tiara owned by Marie Bonaparte. Cartier Paris, 1907. Platinum and diamonds. Qatar Museums Authority.

Cartier’s international clientele reflected the rapid changes of the 20th Century. The jeweler’s rise took place in the context of an increasingly cosmopolitan cultural scene and aligned with international social, political and economic trends. The exhibition will present a selection of themes that span time periods and styles to display the influence and innovation of the jeweler.  

Tiger Lorgnette owned by Duchess of Windsor. Cartier Paris, special order, 1954. Gold, enamel, emeralds, glass. Cartier Collection.  Photo credit: Nick Welsh

Exhibition themes include: 

* Aristocracy and Aspiration: Focusing on objects from 1900–1918, this section features diamond, sapphire, rock crystal and pearl jewelry and enameled decorative items that showcase a refined and elegant aesthetic embraced by European royalty and aristocrats—and the wealthy Americans who aspired to join their social class. 

Stomacher Brooch, Cartier Paris, special order, 1907. Platinum, sapphires, diamonds. Cartier Collection. Photo credit: Nick Welsh

* Art Deco: New Outlook: Cartier was a leader in the Art Deco movement of the 1910s to 1920s that highlighted a bold look with a new emphasis on color and geometry. The firm used new materials in this era such as jade, coral and black onyx.

Necklace created for Sir Bhupindra Singh, Maharaja of Patiala. Cartier Paris, special order, 1928. Platinum, diamonds, zirconias, topazes, synthetic rubies, smoky quartz, citrine; Cartier Collection. Photo credit: Nick Welsh  

* Art Deco: Foreign Fascination: After World War I, Cartier created original designs that incorporated exotic styles and materials including imported carved jade, lacquer and faience. This style culminated in the colorful tutti-frutti jewelry and sculptural mystery clocks. 

Tutti Frutti Strap Bracelet worn by Mrs. Cole Porter.Cartier Paris, 1929. Platinum, diamonds, sapphires, emeralds, rubies. Cartier Collection.  Photo credit: Nick Welsh

* Masculine View: Louis Cartier is credited with inventing the modern men’s wristwatch. The exhibition includes numerous models and styles, in addition to elegant and complex pocket watches, cuff links, pocket items, cocktail and desk accessories, and inscribed cigarette cases. Historic events commemorated by inscribed gift items made by Cartier are featured in the exhibition. 

Santos wristwatch, Cartier Paris, 1915. Gold, sapphire, leather strap. Cartier Collection. Photo credit: Nick Welsh

* Art of Smoking: Textured, enameled and jeweled cigar cutters, cigarette cases and lighters from 1907 through the 1940s. 

Five-Dial Clock owned by Franklin D. Roosevelt.Cartier New York, 1930. Ebonite, silver, nephrite, enamel, clock movement. Private collection. 

* Age of Glamour: Designs from the 1930s to 1960s preferred by celebrities and “Café Society.”  

Set of Three Clip Brooches worn by Princess Grace of Monaco. Cartier Paris, 1955. Platinum, brilliant- and baguette-cut diamonds, three cabochon rubies weighing approximately 49 carats. Palais Princier de Monaco.  
More photographs from the exhibition can be viewed by following this link

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