The First Art Newspaper on the Net Established in 1996 United States Wednesday, November 26, 2014


Exhibition at London's Victoria & Albert Museum reveals unglamorous history of pearls
The Hanover tiara, worn by both wives of Prince Johann Georg of Saxony, is displayed in the V&A's "Pearls" exhibition in west London on September 18, 2013. Running from September 21, 2013 to January 19, 2014, the exhibition includes items of jewellery worn by aristocracy and celebrities as well as explaining the science behind their creation. AFP PHOTO / LEON NEAL.
LONDON.- A pearl-drop earring worn by Charles I at his execution in 1649, magnificent pearl tiaras worn by European nobility and a necklace of cultured pearls given to Marilyn Monroe by Joe DiMaggio in 1954 are among the incredible array of jewels and other objects on display in a new exhibition at the V&A. Organised in partnership with the Qatar Museums Authority (QMA), the exhibition explores the history of pearls from the early Roman Empire to the present, and is a highlight event of the Qatar UK 2013 Year of Culture.

On display are over 200 pieces of jewellery and works of art showcasing the extraordinary variety of colour and shape of natural and cultured pearls. The exhibition examines how pearls have been employed over centuries in both East and West as a symbol of status and wealth, how tastes vary in different cultures as well as the changing designs of jewellery with pearls.

The exhibition begins with an insight into the natural history of pearls showcased by a rare collection of molluscs from the Qatar Museums Authority and the pearl-fishing trade from across the Arabian Gulf to Europe and Asia, since Antiquity. A magnificent selection of natural pearls from the Gulf demonstrates how Gulf pearls have long been some of the most desirable and valuable in the world. The opening section also reveals the often dangerous working methods of pearl divers and shows the trading practices of pearl merchants in the Gulf, together with examples of equipment required for weighing and valuing pearls. Examples of early experiments in producing cultured pearls attempted in the 18th century by Carl Linnaeus are shown with scientific instruments which were used in the first half of the 20th century to distinguish between the natural and the cultured pearl.

The central focus of the exhibition chronicles the representation of pearls in jewellery through history, showcasing Ancient Roman jewels made as early as the 1st century AD and takes the exhibition up to date with contemporary work made by designers practising today. Through Antiquity myths and legends surrounded the pearl and early examples of Roman and Byzantine jewellery show how they were used as a sign of power and an indicator of rank in society. In Medieval times pearls were transformed from a symbol of luxury and ostentation into a Christian symbol representing purity and chastity, as represented by the Hylle Jewel with the scene of the Annunciation.

During the Renaissance, as Europe experienced a period of affluence, pearls began to be used extravagantly in jewellery and featured prominently in a new genre of portrait painting as a mark of extreme authority and wealth. On display are paintings and portrait miniatures featuring nobles, courtiers and affluent merchants of society, adorned with pearls. Other highlights from the 1600s include ‘Queen Mary II’ pearls (1662 -1694) as well as examples of irregular and unusual-shaped Baroque pearls forming striking jewellery designs.

The fascination with pearls continued in the 18th century. Celebrities of the day including Marie-Antoinette, her mother the Empress Maria Theresa, Empress Catherine the Great of Russia and Queen Charlotte, wore opulent pearls either in swags or as multiple strands and chokers, as seen in the portrait miniature of Queen Charlotte (1781). However, wearing jewellery was not restricted to women; men of distinction also wore jewels and accessories. On show are a set of buttons finely enamelled and framed with pearls worn by George III (1780).

In Victorian times pearls often had symbolic meanings and were found in sentimental jewels, or as naturalistic motifs with allegorical content. Examples featured include the so-called ‘Dagmar necklace’ gifted to Princess Alexandra when she married the Prince of Wales, the future King Edward VII, in 1863 and a pendant locket with black pearl commemorating Prince Albert (1862).

Delicate compositions of Art Nouveau jewels sparsely decorated with pearls contrast with the opulent application of pearls in fashionable sautoirs of the 1920s or a three-stranded Cartier necklace with Gulf pearls designed in the 1930s. An Art Deco brooch by Jean Fouquet (1937) was in its period as innovative as the contemporary designs of the Munich jeweller Stefan Hemmerle with rare melo pearls (2011). The figurative creations of Geoffrey Rowlandson (1999) and the complex use of pearls in Sam Tho Duong’s necklace (2011) illustrate the diversity of contemporary jewellery designs with pearls.

An Icon with Virgin and Child decorated with Russian freshwater pearls (1886), an Imperial Robe from China studded with pearls (c. 1870 – 1911) and a Chinese wedding head-dress (1800-1900) examine the significance of pearls in the Far East. They are shown alongside tiaras formerly belonging to the British and European high nobility, such as the Rosebery pearl and diamond Tiara (1878), as well pieces worn by celebrities of today, including Elizabeth Taylor’s Bulgari pearl-drop pendant earrings (1972).

The exhibition also follows the invention of the cultured pearl and its production on an industrial scale initiated by Kokichi Mikimoto in Japan. He succeeded in developing the necessary technology to establish ways of making pearls affordable for every woman to wear. Today in East Asia and the South Seas an impressive variety of cultured pearls are found in unusual colours.

The jewellery and works of art are drawn from the V&A and QMA’s collections, alongside objects from British collections including Tate Britain, the British Museum and the Royal Collection and established jewellery houses such as Mikimoto, Tiffany & Co, Bulgari, Cartier, Chaumet, René Lalique and YOKO London.





Today's News

September 22, 2013

Exhibition at London's Victoria & Albert Museum reveals unglamorous history of pearls

Smithsonian Secretary announces plan to retire; Wayne Clough to step down October 2014

Exhibition explores extravagant domestic collecting practices of Spanish Colonial elite opens

Exhibition at Albertina provides insight into the impressive years of the incipient avant garde

An umbrella, a sewing machine and a dissecting table: Surrealism à la Dalí in Rotterdam

The Enchanted World of German Romantic Prints opens at the Philadelphia Museum of Art

2012-13 is a year of great success and worldwide development for Tate galleries

Christie's presents for sale magnificent silver with a Russian imperial provenance

Galerie Springer Berlin exhibits photographs and drawings by the New York artist Saul Leiter

World's largest stamp gallery opens at the National Postal Museum

Georgia Museum of Art at the University of Georgia examines Catherine the Great's art patronage

"Adolph Gottlieb: Sculptor" opens at the University of Michigan Museum of Art

HangarBicocca, the contemporary art space in Milan, presents The Visitors by Ragnar Kjartansson

Everson announces opening of Jordan Eagles: Red Giant

Spectacular site-specific installation by Chiharu Shiota inaugurates Daniel Templon's new gallery space

UT Austin receives gift of Magnum Photos collection from Dell, Fuhrman, Phelan families

Hermès honours Spain with a one-of-a-kind bag to be auctioned online by Christie's

Luca Dellaverson's first solo exhibition opens at Tilton Gallery

Smithsonian experts find E-readers can make reading easier for those with dyslexia

Kunsthal KAdE presents major exhibition with 37 contemporary Japanese artists

Most Popular Last Seven Days



1.- Greece holds breath as skeleton found in Alexander the Great-era tomb at Amphipolis

2.- Spain mourns the death of art collector Cayetana Fitz-James Stuart, Duchess of Alba

3.- Meet the ancestors: Exhibition at Bordeaux gallery reveals faces of prehistoric humans

4.- Getty Foundation and partners launch free of charge online art collection catalogues

5.- Historic photos of dead Cuban revolutionary Che Guevara resurface in small Spanish town

6.- Exhibition showcases the first two 'Poesie' created by Titian following their restoration

7.- O'Keeffe painting sells for more than three times the previous world auction record for any female artist

8.- Crystal Bridges announces the departure of museum President Don Bacigalupi

9.- artnet Auctions offers a later example of Yayoi Kusama's important Infinity-Nets series

10.- 'Degenerate art' should go back to museums: German advisor Jutta Limbach



Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .

 

Founder:
Ignacio Villarreal
Editor & Publisher: Jose Villarreal - Consultant: Ignacio Villarreal Jr.
Art Director: Juan José Sepúlveda Ramírez - Marketing: Carla Gutiérrez
Special Contributor: Liz Gangemi - Special Advisor: Carlos Amador
Contributing Editor: Carolina Farias

Royalville Communications, Inc
produces:

ignaciovillarreal.org theavemaria.org juncodelavega.org facundocabral-elfinal.org
Founder's Site. The most varied versions
of this beautiful prayer.
Hommage
to a Mexican poet.
Hommage
       

The First Art Newspaper on the Net. The Best Versions Of Ave Maria Song Junco de la Vega Site Ignacio Villarreal Site