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Bijoux parisiens brings to Memphis rare jewel collection from the Petit Palais, Paris
Paul Vever (1851 – 1915) and Henri Vever (1854 – 1942) for Maison Vever, after design by Eugène Samuel Grasset (1841–1917) Swan and Lily Pin, ca. 1900 .Ivory, gold, and enamel, Petit Palais, Musée des Beaux-Arts de la Ville de Paris ; Inv.: OGAL 00494 Don Henri Vever, 1925.

MEMPHIS, TN.- Bijoux parisiens: French Jewelry from the Petit Palais, Paris opened at the Dixon Gallery and Gardens bringing to Memphis iconic and inimitable jewels from the famous French houses of Fannière, Boucheron, Crouzet, Cartier, and others. The exhibition traces the fascinating story of French jewelry design as it evolves from the royal and religious patronage of the seventeenth century to modern day luxury of the mid-twentieth century. The objects in Bijoux parisiens are from the collections of the Petit Palais, Paris, and private lenders in London, Paris, and Memphis.

Bijoux parisiens features seventy unique works of jewelry and over 200 gouache drawings, oil paintings, fashion prints, and photographs. The exhibition examines the work of such brilliant and inventive designers as Ernest Vever, Eugène Fontenay, Lucien Falize, Réné Lalique, and the remarkable Charles Jacqueau, who defined the Cartier look for more than four decades.

Bijoux parisiens marks the Dixon’s second collaboration with the Petit Palais in three years. The two museums worked together on the retrospective exhibition Jean-Louis Forain: La Comédie parisienne in 2011. The exhibition is accompanied by a 248-page, full-color, hardcover catalogue authored by Gilles Chazal and Martine Chazal of the Petit Palais.

Paris has long been recognized as a center of innovation in the visual arts and fashion. But what may be less understood is the degree to which these independent disciplines respond to the same sets of social and political concerns, influence one another, and are aesthetically interconnected. More than a showcase of beautiful, even dazzling, objects, the exhibition, Bijoux parisiens: French Jewelry from the Petit Palais, Paris, sets out to explore this intriguing French intersection, where history, art, and fashion meet.

Since the nineteenth century, some of the world’s great jewelry maisons—Boucheron, Cartier, Chaumet, and Van Cleef & Arpels, to name but a few—have called Paris home. The city has inspired one visionary jewelry designer after another, and produced formidable businesses—onetime storefronts that are now international brands of enduring appeal. These artists and entrepreneurs have executed thousands of designs that are wholly unique objects, but also expressions of the age in which they were made. Their work has established the Place Vendôme and the connecting Rue de la Paix in Paris as a worldwide center for jewelry design.

Bijoux parisiens: French Jewelry from the Petit Palais, Paris tracks France’s continually evolving jewelry aesthetic, from a lavish Baroque sensibility to the Neoclassicism of Napoleon to the sleek designs of the Art Deco period. At once a showcase for the elegance of Paris and a history of French taste, Bijoux parisiens tells the story of dozens of talented artists, designers, and entrepreneurs, working with the most precious materials on earth to create extraordinary works of art. The exhibition draws from the exceptional holdings of fine jewelry, design drawings, paintings, and fashion illustrations at the Petit Palais, Paris, as well as from private collections in Paris, London, and Memphis.

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