“Cartier and Women” Exhibition Breaks New Ground at Hong Kong Palace Museum
First-ever exhibition on women in Cartier’s history with Chinese aesthetic influence.
“Women are part of Cartier’s essence,” says Cyrille Vigneron, president and CEO of Cartier. For 176 years, the House of Cartier has accompanied some of the world’s most influential and powerful women. Its creations, from tiaras to necklaces and brooches, have played an important role in history through its association with notable figures such as the Duchess of Windsor, the Princess of Monaco, Grace Kelly and modern-day celebrities and collectors like Brigitte Lin and Carina Lau.
It is these enduring relationships that Cartier wishes to immortalise through a seminal exhibition titled “Cartier and Women”, which is now showing at Hong Kong’s newest cultural landmark, the Hong Kong Palace Museum (HKPM) until the 14th of August 2023. About 300 stunning treasures by Cartier from the 19th century to the present day will be on display. According to the prestigious jeweller, this showcase will be the first to celebrate women’s unique role and influence in the brand’s history.
“Cartier and Women” reveals intriguing tales about the intimate bond between women and jewellery. It is also a platform to show how the jeweller has been influenced by Chinese art and other global art forms in terms of its savoir faire like ornamentation, techniques, and materials as well as how Chinese aesthetics have impacted women’s lifestyles and global fashion. The display is a testament to the innovative curatorial approach of the HKPM and its mission to promote cross-disciplinary collaboration and foster robust conversations between China and the rest of the world.
While the exhibition focuses on women, the brand points out that it does not only cater to them nor “has a conventional view on women or men.” Above all, it greatly emphasises character and personality — this guiding ethos is visible throughout its collections from jewellery, timepieces, objects and accessories.
With such a grand showing, “Cartier and Women” is divided into four themes, and the through-line is the exploration of Cartier’s bond with these important female figures over its almost two-century history. Each theme will be complemented with a captivating narrative that explains the importance of a certain piece, icon and period.
The first section, titled “Royal and Aristocratic Women: Elegance and Prestige”, pays tribute to the pivotal role of wealthy and royal women in Cartier’s early history during the 19th century. The second section, “New Women: Breaking with Tradition”, explores how jewellery design evolved in response to women’s emancipation. This is epitomised by Jeanne Toussaint, Cartier’s first female creative director. Her iconic designs like La Panthère have become a house code and also changed women’s relationship with jewellery beyond superficiality but one of greater intimacy.
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The third section, “Inquisitive Women: Cross-cultural Inspirations”, examines how Cartier’s designs were influenced by art from China and other parts of the world. Highlights from this section include a Chinese-style vanity case that took inspiration from a porcelain dish during the Kangxi period in the late 1600s. Finally, the fourth section, “Influential Women: Glamorous Legends”, spotlights the close bond between Cartier contemporary female icons across different decades.
Speaking more about the “Cartier and Women” exhibition, Dr Louis Ng, Museum Director of the HKPM, said: “This remarkable exhibition underscores Hong Kong’s position as an East-meets-West centre for international cultural exchange, and highlights the Museum’s global vision and innovative curatorial approach which emphasises rigorous research and scholarship. Through the fascinating stories of the women behind these exquisite exhibits, we hope to inspire visitors to explore the role and influence of women across time and enrich their understanding of works that marry Eastern and Western aesthetics.”
In conjunction with the exhibition, HKPM will also conduct various educational programmes. This ranges from scholarly lectures to film screenings, music and dance performance and artmaking workshops. In addition, Cartier has sponsored 5,000 complimentary admission tickets for the underprivileged.
Tickets are priced at HK$120 for adults and HK$60 for concessions. The “Cartier and Women” exhibition runs from 14 April until 14 August 2023 in Gallery 8 of the Hong Kong Palace Museum.
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