The Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris has launched the “Cartier and Islamic Art: In Search of Modernity” exhibition. The exhibition explores the influence of Islamic art on the design of high jewellery by Cartier, as well as precious objects from the beginning of the 20th century to the present day. More than 500 pieces from the Cartier Collection, private and public loans, masterpieces of Islamic art, drawings, books, photographs, and archival documents all trace the origins of the jeweller’s interest in Islamic motifs.
Founded in 1847 by Louis-François Cartier, Maison Cartier initially specialised in selling jewellery and art. After passing down the mantle to his grandson, Louis Cartier, in 1898, Cartier was designing its own jewellery. By then, Louis Cartier was seeking new inspiration, which coincided with the Islamic art trade in Paris, and the Musée des Arts Décoratifs helped Louis discover new shapes that were spreading throughout French society. The exhibition is organised as a themed chronological tour divided into two parts. The first part explores the origins of the interest in Islamic art and architecture through the cultural background of Paris in the 20th century. The second part explores the lexicon of forms inspired by Islamic art, from the 20th century to today.
Louis’ personal collection has been reconstructed thanks to the archives of House Cartier, along with design drawings by Charles Jacqueau thanks to a loan from Petit Palais, Fine Arts Museum of Paris. The exhibition continues to explore Jacqueau’s travels for Cartier, including to India in 1911 where he met with Maharajahs where he traded gemstones and pearls to find his way into the country. The trading enabled him to build relationships with Maharajahs while simultaneously collecting antique and contemporary jewellery. The patterns and shapes from Islamic architecture and art became an integral part of the stylistic vocabulary of Cartier’s designers. Even today, Islamic art still forms a part of the Cartier repertoire as seen in the contemporary jewels section that complete the exhibition.
For the first time, members of the public are able to look into the design process of one of the world’s most renowned jewellers, the House of Cartier. The exhibition allows visitors to understand the impact Islamic art had on Cartier. The exhibition runs from today (November 3) to 20 February 2022.