How to introduce the layman to the world of a great jeweler without falling into a common marketing operation or making those who have never heard of bezel settings and cushion cuts yawn with boredom? The question has been tormenting the houses of Place Vendôme for several years. In 2020, Van Cleef & Arpels cleverly placed its creations in an exhibition on gemology at the National Museum of Natural History (MNHN). The following year, Cartier was able to show its links with the arts of Islam at the Museum of Decorative Arts with impeccable scientific rigor and the contribution of the Louvre.
“If we want the general public to grow out of it, the whole challenge is to find an angle to its exhibition and avoid yet another consensual self-celebration”, summarizes Jean-Marc Mansvelt, the boss of Chaumet. His choice? Subjectivity. Thus he offered carte blanche to botanist Marc Jeanson, 41, former head of the MNHN herbarium and current botanical director of the Majorelle garden in Marrakech, Morocco. The project resulted in a vast exhibition, entitled “Vegetal, the school of beauty”, which combines jewelry, drawings, photographs, paintings and clothing, visible all summer at the Beaux-Arts in Paris.
“I imagined the exhibition as a herbarium where the identity of the species is privileged. In botany, the classification by species is an intangible rule. » Marc Jeanson, botanist
The links already existed between the scientist and Chaumet, which claims to be “naturalist jeweler” since its foundation in 1780. Marc Jeanson had been advising since 2018 for more modest clashes and Jean-Marc Mansvelt had visited the national herbarium with him. “He combines a scientific, Cartesian approach with a curiosity revealed by his sparkling eyes”, praise the second about the first. “An LVMH house can of course be viewed with suspicion by scientists, but, as long as the initiative is open to the arts and sciences, why oppose it? », defends Marc Jeanson who, for this project, began by exploring the Chaumet archives from top to bottom.
Being neither curator nor keen on jewellery, it was as a botanist that he approached the exercise. “I imagined the exhibition as a herbarium where the identity of the species is privileged. In botany, classification by species is an intangible rule, whether the specimen was collected four centuries ago or the day before yesterday, whether it comes from Africa or Asia. » Thus, “Végétal” will bring together 400 works in which we identify the plants and trees represented – oak, rose, iris, ivy, passionflower…
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