More than 125 pieces of jewellery and art objects from the Rachel Lambert Mellon collection are on display at the Magnificent Jewels of Jean Schlumberger: From the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA) Collection exhibition, which opened yesterday at the National Museum of Qatar (NMoQ).
The opening ceremony was attended by HE the Minister of Public Health Dr Hanan Mohamed al-Kuwari, Qatar Museums (QM) acting CEO Ahmad al-Namla, Alfardan Group vice chairman and Alfardan Jewellery president Ali Alfardan, and several other VIP guests.
“We are proud to present Magnificent Jewels of Jean Schlumberger as one of the first temporary exhibitions at the recently opened NMoQ,” QM’s Exhibitions Director Sheikha Reem al-Thani said. “Schlumberger’s dazzling jewellery and art objects, which were inspired by nature, will certainly captivate visitors, just as the museum has through its organic design, resembling a desert rose.”
This unique exhibition, supported by Alfardan Group and Tiffany &Co, which will run until January 15, 2020, is dedicated to the vibrant and sculptural work of Schlumberger (1907-1987), who transformed 20th century fashion with jewellery and accessories inspired by natural forms.
According to QM, the Rachel Lambert Mellon Collection is the largest and most comprehensive public collection of jewellery and art objects by Schlumberger.
QM noted that the exhibition highlights the designer’s imaginative, witty and awe-inspiring interpretations of animal and botanical subjects, particularly marine life and flowers, which combine precious metals and gemstones, as well as organic materials. The exhibition is organised by Dr Michael R Taylor, chief curator and deputy director for Art and Education, VMFA; and Kristie Couser, curatorial assistant for Works on Paper, The Clark Art Institute.
From its debut in 2017 at VMFA, the exhibition travelled to The Museum of Fine Art in St Petersburg, Florida and The National Museum of China in Beijing. “This unparalleled collection of Jean Schlumberger’s iconic jewellery, accessories, and other decorative objects was given to VMFA by Rachel Lambert Mellon, one of the most generous donors in our history,” said Dr Taylor. “These extraordinary works – with their vibrant colours, exquisite craftsmanship, and natural inspirations – showcase Schlumberger’s imagination and clarity of vision.”
Highlights of the exhibition include Schlumberger’s first jewellery designs inspired by objets trouves (found objects) that he acquired in the sprawling flea markets of Paris in the mid-1930s (gold brooches), including an example featuring stray porcelain flowers made by Meissen of Germany; one of a kind and functional objects such as an 18-carat gold “Salt Cellar,” as well as candlesticks and tabletop clocks with a signature geometric design, many of which were created for Bunny Mellon’s home; and jewellery and objects that he created for Bunny Mellon.
The exhibition also showcases works inspired by flora and fauna of the sea, including works for Tiffany & Co that incorporated seashell motifs, and pieces influenced by his visits to the coasts of Sri Lanka, Thailand and Indonesia; and his elaborate designs for cigarette cases, pill boxes and vanity cases, which were fashionable items in the 1960s and recall the 18th and 19th century fashion for snuffboxes, sold at Tiffany & Co and frequently commissioned Bunny Mellon.
Schlumberger began his career crafting costume jewellery for the French fashion designer Elsa Schiaparelli in 1930s Paris, before heading his own private salon at New York’s Tiffany & Co beginning in the 1950s. Schlumberger’s designs featuring precious stones would include diverse cuts, carat size, and colour – adding a multi-faceted dynamism to each piece. A natural lapidary (gem artisan), he shaped minerals and gems using the techniques of cabochon cutting to maximise a gem’s brilliance.
QM noted that admission to the exhibition costs QR20 for adults; QR10 for students and free for children under 16, Culture Pass Plus and Culture Pass Family Members, and visitors with disabilities.
The Rachel Lambert Mellon Collection is the largest and most comprehensive collection of jewellery and art objects by Schlumberger.