Open Now: Jewellery & Antiques Exhibition: “Végétal – Botanic; Observing Beauty” Chaumet x Les Beaux-Arts – Paris – Until 4th September

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A new and unprecedented exhibition as a tribute to the plant kingdom and the infinity of its forms, structures, textures and colours. Open now up until 4th September 2022. 

The Beaux-Arts de Paris and Maison Chaumet present Végétal – L’École de la Beauté, curated
by Marc Jeanson, which is open now until 4th September 2022. This unprecedented and ambitious exhibition affirms the beauty of nature and celebrates the timeless essence of plant life through an interplay of viewpoints, eras and media, inviting visitors to look at nature through the universal prism of art and beauty. As project initiator, Maison Chaumet has drawn on its vast heritage, one of the most important in the history of jewellery in Europe, to make its naturalist identity and botanist perspective resonate with the wealth of artistic forms that have also looked to the botanical. 

Nearly 400 works offer an enlightening exploration of 5000 years of art and science related through the dialogue between painting, sculpture, textiles, photography, furniture, and around 80 jewellery objects from Chaumet and other houses. A major source of inspiration for the Maison since it was founded in 1780 by Marie-Étienne Nitot, a man who presented himself as a “naturalist jeweller”, nature is now a key topic as our world is being shaped by a new environmental awakening.

This is why the Beaux-Arts de Paris and Chaumet have entrusted the curatorship of the exhibition to the botanist Marc Jeanson, former director of the Herbarium at the Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle in Paris, and now botanical director of the Jardin Majorelle in Marrakech. Associated with the Maison for a number of years, Marc Jeanson conceived Végétal as an herbarium composed from species featured in Chaumet creations.

The immersive journey brings together a host of “landscape-worlds”–cave, forest, foreshore, reed bed, prairie, garden, mille-fleurs–arrayed in the Salles Foch and Melpomène of the Beaux-Arts de Paris. Freed from chronological categorisation, the exhibition allows the visitor to wander freely, passing from the reproduction of cave art more than 5,000 years old to the two canvases by Giuseppe Archimboldo, Spring and Summer – the only examples here of paintings presenting a human figure – to the works of Delacroix, Fantin-Latour, Gustave Caillebotte, Claude Monet, Gustave Courbet, Emile Gallé, Odilon Redon and Otto Dix, to the cyanotypes of English botanist Anna Atkins, the photographs of Brassaï, Dora Maar, Mapplethorpe, and Eva Jospin’s cardboard forest.

The plants thus appear within recreations of the locations in which they are naturally found: the forest, the foreshore, the reed bed, the wheat field, and so on. Over the course of their exploration, the visitor reconnects with the botanist’s tools – the eye, knowledge and memory. Emotional and sensitive responses to objects from the realm of science that have become objets d’art, and the preliminary observations of artists who have become botanists, open up a whole world of wonder.

This exhibition is made possible by the participation of more than 70 lenders: museums, foundations, galleries, but also private collectors, French and foreign alike, including the Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle, Musée du Louvre, Institut de France, Victoria & Albert Museum, British Museum, Pistoia Musei, Hamburger Kunsthalle, and the Albion Art Collection in Tokyo.
The exhibition provides an opportunity to rediscover important female figures, among whom Joséphine holds a special place. Faithful to Maison Chaumet since 1805, the empress was also passionate about natural sciences, to the extent of being recognized for her innovative contributions to botany and horticulture. From Eva Jospin’s forest to the sound design created for the occasion by Laurence Equilbey, women fill the exhibition, with Séraphine de Senlis, Yvonne Jean-Haffen, Barbara Dietzsch, Berthe Morisot, Laure Albin-Guillot, the Sœurs Vesque and Luzia Simons among the other names.

With a partnership established over several years, for both the Beaux-Arts de Paris and Maison Chaumet, creation and transmission are at the heart of their identity. Their participation in this ambitious project reflects the wide-ranging reach of the Beaux-Arts, simultaneously school, lender and museum. As patron of the drawing department and the new “Dessin Extra-Large” chair, Chaumet is also involved in a new course dedicated to scenography, enabling students to follow the realisation of the Végétal exhibition, the design of which has been entrusted to Adrien Gardère.

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