From December 1st 2022 to April 14th 2023, L’ÉCOLE School of Jewelry Arts will present its Gold and Treasures exhibition in Paris, showcasing over three thousand years of goldsmithing work from China through a selection of masterpieces from the Mengdiexuan Collection.
Following the first exhibition at L’ÉCOLE Asia Pacific in Hong Kong last spring, the Gold and Treasures exhibition is now moving to Paris. On display will be astonishing pieces that span more than three thousand years of Chinese history. Through these, visitors will get the opportunity to experience and decipher a wide range of symbolic meanings as they tour the exhibition. All the pieces on display are part of the exceptional private Mengdiexuan Collection.
A Taoist text from the Han dynasty (206 BCE.–220 CE) reveals the importance of gold during that era. It stated, “Gold is the most valuable thing in all the world because it is immortal and never gets rotten. Alchemists eat it, and they enjoy longevity.” (Wei Boyang, alchemist). Since the 5th millennium BCE, gold has fascinated humans, prompting talented artisans to create jewellery and ornaments with strong symbolic values.
Cicada-shaped ornament in Gold and tourmaline from the Ming dynasty, 1368–1644.
The Gold and Treasures exhibition is centred around three main themes:
The first part offers an introduction from a scientific and gemological point of view on the material and the properties of gold: What is gold? Where is it found? What type of gold is used to make jewellery? The answers to these questions will become evident through a series of displays of nuggets, crystals and ancient jewellery.
Next, the Gold and Treasures exhibition will focus on savoir-faire (craftsmanship). The areas explored here include hammering, chasing, casting, granulation, gold wire and filigree, setting and inlay.
On display will be necklaces, bracelets, earrings, hairpins, brooches, and belt buckles that take visitors on a journey to the Chinese Empire through Central Asia, the Eurasian Steppes, Mongolia and the Himalayas.
The exhibition covers a period of more than three millennia, from the Shang dynasty (approx 1500-1046 B.C.E.) to the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), and showcases the ancestral skills that still fascinate us today.
Finally, the Gold and Treasures exhibition will highlight the power of symbols in Chinese art, including the rich and diverse iconography that embodies happiness, longevity, rank, prosperity and, more generally, auspiciousness. The ornaments from the Mengdiexuan Collection will offer visitors a glimpse of this symbolic wealth.
Bringing art history, savoir-faire, and materials into dialogue in the exhibition perfectly aligns with the mission pursued by L’ÉCOLE, School of Jewelry Arts, ever since its creation in 2012. With the support of Van Cleef & Arpels, its goal is to continue promoting the many dimensions of the art of jewellery through courses, talks, workshops, exhibitions, publications, and research.
Why the Gold and Treasures exhibition is a must-visit
For millennia, gold has been the primary signifier of wealth and power. However, this changed when some people came along and decided it was too difficult to obtain; thus, metal coins and banknotes were invented to do the same job.
Roll on to modern times, and now wealth is measured by paper, plastic and numbers on a computer screen. It’s crazy when you think about it; that wealth can be created out of nothing tangible at the touch of a button.
Many people consider true wealth to be the value of one’s unencumbered physical assets, such as precious and rare chattels and property etc., not a number based on the valuation of something intangible.
The advantage precious metals offered as a judge of wealth is they made pretences and falsities very difficult.
In today’s world, people live extravagant lifestyles revelling in the adulation from others. In many cases, the adoring public doesn’t realise that those flaunting their wealth and lifestyle probably own as little as 5 per cent of it. And, until they pay the remaining ninety-five per cent of the money they borrowed to fund it, it’s the lender who makes decisions regarding its future.
At some point, the planet’s computers will stop working, and the numbers indicating a person’s supposed wealth will vanish into the ether. L’ÉCOLE, School of Jewelry Arts Gold and Treasures exhibition will be an excellent reminder of how true wealth was calculated.
Gold and Treasures Exhibition – Where and how?
The exhibition opens on December 1st 2022, and runs until April 14th 2023. It will be open Tuesday to Saturday, from 12 pm to 7 pm, and on Thursdays, it will be open until 8:00 pm.
Admission is free of change. More information can be found HERE.
L’ÉCOLE, SCHOOL OF JEWELRY ARTS
31, rue Danielle Casanova, 75001 Paris
Tel. +33 (0)1 70 70 38 40
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