Chaumet transports its treasure trove of historic jewels from Paris to Beijing’s Forbidden City for the exceptional Imperial Splendours exhibition.
Tuesday to Sunday 8:30am - 5pm; closed Mondays.
From Place Vendôme to the regal Palace Museum of Beijing’s Forbidden City, Chaumet’s exhibition Imperial Splendours is a once-in-a-lifetime treat for lovers of Chaumet’s exquisite creations, showcased in one of the world’s most spectacular and evocative settings.
With more than 300 pieces on show, Imperial Splendours spans the history of Chaumet from the end of the 18th century to the 21st century, culminating with the winning tiara of a creative competition held at Central Saint Martins, London, designed by 21-year-old British student Scott Armstrong.
The exhibition traces the origins of Chaumet, founded by Marie-Étienne Nitot, in the Place Vendôme in 1780 with emblematic pieces of this period and continues in chronological order, charting the creations commissioned by France’s imperial courts, including magnificent jewellery and tiaras for Empress Joséphine and the coronation sword of Napoleon Bonaparte, crowned with the 140-carat Regent diamond.
After the fall of the Empire in 1815, Nitot left the Maison to Jean-Baptiste Fossin, who was inspired by the Romantic movement where nature takes centre stage and many of the Maison’s iconic motifs, like wheat, flowers, fruit, birds and foliage, were consolidated.
With the advent of World Fairs or Universal Expositions from the mid-19th century, cross-cultural influences pollinated all aspects of creative production and the taste for chinoiseries – the name given to Western-made creations inspired by the Far East – became all the rage. Chaumet reinterpreted oriental exoticism in its creations, and a fascinating section of the exhibition showcases 22 jewels from the Palace Museum and 22 jewels by Chaumet.
Naturally, Chaumet’s iconic diadems and tiaras play a stellar role in the exhibition, with a beautiful headdress from 1811, with sheaths of wheat bending in the wind, all the way through to the latest contemporary piece by Scott Armstrong.
The Palace Museum was founded in 1925 in the heart of the imperial architectural complex known as the Forbidden City and erected under the Ming dynasty in the early 15th century. One of the most prestigious museums in China and the world thanks to its wealth of paintings, calligraphy, ceramics and antiquities of the imperial collections, the Palace Museum was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987.
Admission: Entrance price: 60 RMB (general entrance ticket giving access to the exhibition and to the rest of the Palace Museum).
The Consular sword, also known as Napoleon I’s Coronation sword with the mythical 140-carat Regent diamond sparkling in the hilt, a sumptuous aquamarine stone set into a stomacher and the impossibly beautiful tiaras.