An exceptional display is taking place in the newly renovated Meridian Gate of the Palace Museum in Beijing till 31 July. This exhibition titled “Beyond Boundaries: Cartier and the Palace Museum” features more than 800 Cartier treasures to celebrate the bond between the French luxury brand and the Beijing museum.
It all started when Cartier and the Palace Museum brought their watch experts together to work on a joint restoration project in La Chaux-de-Fonds in Switzerland. The collaboration was an exchange of techniques and expertise for the restorers that led them to explore the possibility of presenting a joint exhibition to celebrate savoir-faire in timepieces through the ages.
What started with six movements of timepieces dating back to the late 18th century, eventually expanded into a much wider plan involving artefacts dating from the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644 AD) all the way to present day. Spread over the 30,000-square-foot Meridian Gate, the exhibition displays notable jewellery, clocks, watches and bridge and vanity cases among other items of importance under three themes — Chinese Inspirations, Symbols of Power and Time Memories. While Chinese Inspirations focuses on works created using Chinese materials and symbols, Symbols of Power showcase as many as 30 tiaras created by Cartier for royalty in Russia, England, Belgium and India.
A sparkling feast for the eyes is the 1902 platinum-and-diamonds Scroll tiara by the French watch and jewellery maison, made as a special order for the Countess of Essex. Additionally, a 1928 Chinese vanity case with inlaid plaque was made by the Cartier workshop based on a Chinese plate of familie-verte porcelain from the Kangxi period (1662-1722 AD), which was a part of Louis Cartier’s personal collection. The six 18th- and 19th-century watch and clock movements from the Forbidden City’s collection took three years to be completely restored. They are highlighted in the Time Memories section.
Interestingly, the exhibition doesn’t only feature artefacts from the Palace Museum and the Cartier archive. Many objects have been sourced from other public institutions, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the National Gallery of Australia, the Qatar Museums and the Musée International d’Horlogerie (International Museum of Horology) in La Chaux-de-Fonds, as well as some other private and royal collections.
Beyond Boundaries: Cartier and the Palace Museum exhibition is open Tuesday to Sunday from 8:30 to 17:00.