Beyond Boundaries: Cartier at Beijing’s Palace Museum

Cultural Perspectives • 30 Jun 2019

Beyond Boundaries: Cartier at Beijing’s Palace Museum


A Collaborative Undertaking

Running until the 31st of July, Cartier and the Palace Museum are presenting the exhibition Beyond Boundaries: Cartier and The Palace Museum Craftsmanship and Restoration in the Meridian Gate Gallery of the Palace Museum in Beijing.

Ribbon cutting: Olivier Richard, Wang Xu Dong, Cyrylle Vigneron (from left to right)

Following on from the popular Cartier Treasures – Jeweller to Kings, King of Jewellers which took part 10 years ago, Cartier and the Palace Museum are celebrating the long cultural links between Cartier and China in this new exhibition. It aims to reveal and explore mediums that boost cultural exchange, including inspirations and savoir-faire

Chinese Inspirations Exhibition hall, Palace Museum. Featuring images of Jeanne Toussaint, Cartier’s visionary Artistic Director of Jewellery

More than 800 pieces dating from the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) to today are gathered together from the Cartier Collection, the Maison’s archives, the collections of the Palace Museum and public institutions including the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York), the National Gallery of Australia (Canberra), the Qatar Museums and the Musée International d’horlogerie (La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland), as well as private and princely collections.

Chinese Inspirations Exhibition hall, Palace Museum

Cultural Exchange Between China & Switzerland

Although there is mention of “Chinese-style” objects in the Cartier archives from the 1870s, it was some years later when Jules Glaenzer become the first Cartier employee to visit mainland China in 1909. Returning from China with a deeper understanding of China’s cultural heritage and a head full of ideas on how Cartier and China could build a longstanding friendship based on respect for the arts.

Time memories exhibition hall, Palace Museum. Displaying Cartier Mystery Clocks

From the 1920s onwards, the Maison made many Chinese-inspired pieces decorated mainly with dragons and chimeras. Case in point the Carp clock with retrograde hand from 1925 (pictured below). Made of a piece of a carved ancient jade depicting two fish swimming in the waves, it is a fine example of the willingness of Cartier designers to incorporate relatively new materials (to the West) such as coral and jade.

Marian Gérard, Cartier Collection © Cartier

Other notable additions to the exhibition include a Large Portique mystery clock from 1923. Made of gold, platinum, rock crystal, diamonds, coral, onyx and black enamel; it was the first in a series of six in the form of a Shinto “shrine gate” (portique), all different and all made by Cartier between 1923 and 1925.

Sold to Mrs. H.F. McCormick (Ganna Walska) Marian Gérard, Cartier Collection © Cartier

In the same way that elements of Chinese inspiration were used in the decoration of mystery clocks, this influence can also be discovered on a Screen clock from 1926. Inspired by the study screens of ancient Chinese scholars, it is made of an ancient engraved white jade plaque decorated with an enamelled dragon on the back.

Nils Herrmann, Cartier Collection © Cartier

The exhibition also reveals a delicate antique table clock in nephrite representing a tortoise, a symbol of long life. The opening of the shell of the tortoise’s back reveals a dial inlaid with mother-of-pearl, lapis-lazuli and turquoise.

Private collection. Studio Gérard © Cartier

Visiting the Exhibition

Open from Tuesday to Sunday (closed on Mondays, except for national holidays), the exhibition runs from 8:30 am to 5 pm daily and ends on the 31st of July 2019. It is highly recommended to book tickets in advance online (bookings can be made here). For more information on Beyond Boundaries: Cartier and The Palace Museum Craftsmanship and Restoration exhibition click here.

Cartier put together a fascinating short film on the process of restoring six ancient timepieces from the Palace Museum collection. The full video can be found here.

Mobile banner image pictured above: Chinese dragon vanity case. Cartier Paris, 1927. Gold, platinum, red, blue and black enamel, emeralds, onyx, diamonds. Nils Herrmann, Cartier Collection © Cartier

Tags: cartier chinese horology event

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