The French in the 18th century were known for many things, their food, their military prowess especially in the field of artillery, and last but not least their ornate objets d’art. Chaumet has been pretty much synonymous with high jewelry and fine watchmaking since their founding in 1780. For anyone interested in beautiful objects designed to decorate members of the old European aristocracy, then this exhibition (until Jul 2) at the Palace Museum should be of particular interest to you.
Founded in 1780 by Marie-Étienne Nitot, the House of Chaumet was the jeweler of choice of notable figures throughout history including Napoleon I and Queen Victoria to name a few. There is a focus at this exhibition on the changes of European style as the East began opening up to Europe and its culture, and these aesthetics gradually began seeping into the lives of wealthy Europeans. The exhibition is built around a unique body of historic jewels, drawings, and archives from Chaumet, spanning from the end of the 18th century to the beginning of 21st. These decorative jewels will be placed beside Qing Dynasty objects of antiquity so that their similarities and detail-oriented craftsmanship can be compared and appreciated.
One of the more awe-inspiring pieces on display is the Coronation Sword, on loan from the Museum of the Palace of Fontainebleau in France. It was commissioned by Napoleon for his 1804 coronation from Marie-Étienne Nitot, the founder of Chaumet. This bedazzled rapier is a site to see, laden with jewels, and indeed fit to be held in the hands of this notorious conqueror.
This is a great opportunity for history aficionados and lovers of jewelry alike, as this is a rare opportunity to these objects put on display. This blinged-out exhibition should fit perfectly among all of the other glamorous artifacts that can be found at the Palace Museum. So make a day out of it, if you have yet to take a trip to this landmark filled with beautiful artifacts.