An incredible exhibit of nearly 250 objects of art with Asian inspiration – more than half of them created by Cartier — draws visitors from around the world to the grand city of Geneva. Opened on November 12th, 2015, and running until February 14th, 2016, the exhibit, “Asia Imagined” is presented by the Baur Foundation in Geneva and is designed to showcase the connective thread between Asia, Cartier and Baur Foundation collections.
The exhibit was envisioned as a way to explore Asian art, culture, and design, with a specific look at the Far Eastern influence on Maison Cartier’s creations over the years. Approximately 160 pieces of the Cartier collection are presented, alongside almost 100 pieces from the Baur Foundation — one of the world’s most prestigious anthologies of Asian art.
The journey focuses on some of the most prominent symbols and styles of Asian culture. With pieces ranging from clocks, to jewelry, table top items, handbags and more, Cartier displays its most unique and sophisticated creations that were born over the course of more than a century.
Having toured the exhibit today here in Geneva, we can say that it is truly a fulfilling experience – one no visitor to Geneva should miss. In fact, it is so inspirational that Cartier has even created a stunning hard-cover book about the exhibit and the pieces. Here we bring you detailed descriptions of just four fabulous pieces that are among our favorites.
To the Chinese, nature is a source of wisdom. Made by Cartier Paris in 1926, the magnificent clock pictured above features a base of onyx holding a dial of white jade intricately carved with a Chinese landscape scene surrounded by a frieze of coral rods. The roman numerals are made of platinum and rose cut diamonds, as are the hands, one of which is shaped like a dragon. The clock features an 8-day movement, Swiss lever escapement, bimetallic balance, and Breguet balance spring.
Chinese legend has it that a mythical form known as a chimera is the son of the dragon, with an appearance of a lion it is said to be a powerful protector that combats bad spirits. This bangle by Cartier Paris 1961 features twin chimera heads made of carved and engraved coral. The heads of the chimeras swivel to open and close the bangle, which features platinum, white gold, and yellow gold as well as both diamonds and emeralds.
The Chimera is also present in the 1926 Cartier New York mystery clock carved from agate. The entire piece is adorned with precious materials including diamonds, pearls, onyx, emeralds, and citrine. The clock features a rectangular 8-day movement, gold plated, with 15 jewels, bimetallic balance, and Breguet balance spring.
Another mythical form prominent in Asian culture is the phoenix, said to embody purity and wisdom. When associated with the dragon the two creatures represent the imperial couple. This brooch which was made special order by Cartier Paris in 1948 is made of platinum and white gold and features an emerald-cut diamond, two square-shaped diamonds, and 991 baguette-, brilliant-, and fancy-cut diamonds.
The “Asia Imagined” exhibition substantiates the strong source of inspiration the Far East offered Cartier — in both style and beauty. It is a not-to-be-missed exhibit.