The National Museum of Qatar opened the Magnificent Jewels of Jean Schlumberger: From the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Collection exhibition in the presence of HE Dr. Hanan Mohamed Al Kuwari, Minister of Public Health, Mr. Ahmad Al Namla, Acting CEO of Qatar Museums and several VIP guests. The exhibition is dedicated to the vibrant and sculptural work of Jean Schlumberger (1907–1987) who transformed 20th century fashion with jewellery and accessories inspired by natural forms. On view at the National Museum of Qatar from October 15, 2019 through January 15, 2020, the exhibition includes more than 125 pieces from the Rachel Lambert Mellon Collection at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, the largest and most comprehensive public collection of jewellery and art objects by Schlumberger. The exhibition will feature 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.
“We are proud to present Magnificent Jewels of Jean Schlumberger as one of the first temporary exhibitions at the recently opened National Museum of Qatar,” said Sheikha Reem Al Thani, Director of Exhibitions at Qatar Museums. “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.”
Magnificent Jewels of Jean Schlumberger: From the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Collection is organised by Dr. Michael R. Taylor, Chief Curator and Deputy Director for Art and Education, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, and Kristie Couser, Curatorial Assistant for Works on Paper, The Clark Art Institute. The exhibition debuted in 2017 at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and has traveled 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. Michael R. Taylor, VMFA. “These extraordinary works – with their vibrant colors, exquisite craftsmanship, and natural inspirations – showcase Schlumberger’s dazzling imagination and clarity of vision.”
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 for objects ranging from cigarette cases and pill boxes to brooches and necklaces were popular with some of the most celebrated women of the period, among them Rachel “Bunny” Lambert Mellon (1910-2014), a noted American horticulturalist and philanthropist, whose collection is the focus of this exhibition.
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.
Magnificent Jewels of Jean Schlumberger: From the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Collection exhibition highlights include:
- Schlumberger’s first jewellery designs inspired by objets trouvés (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, functional objects, such as an 18-karat 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
- Jewelry and objects that Jean Schlumberger created for Bunny Mellon, which reflected her interest in horticulture
- Works inspired by flora and fauna of the sea, including works for Tiffany & Co. that incorporated seashell motifs, and pieces influenced by Schlumberger’s visits to the coasts of Sri Lanka, Thailand and Indonesia
- Schlumberger’s 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
The exhibition is supported by Alfardan Group and Tiffany &Co.
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