THE THANI COLLECTION From 09 September 2017 to 03 January 2018VENICEDucal PalaceTICKET COST:
St. Mark's Square Museums: Full 20 € | Reduced 13 €TELEPHONE FOR INFORMATION
: 848 082 000E-MAIL INFO:
Arrives in Venice for the first time in Italy, the prestigious and celebrated exhibition of gems and jewels from the 16th to the 20th centuries belonging to the Al Thani Collection.
Over 270 items exhibited at Palazzo Ducale tell us about five hundred years of goldsmith art history, originally or inspired, to the Indian subcontinent.
Shining gems, precious stones, antique and legendary jewels, beside contemporary creations, lead us on a journey through five centuries of pure beauty and indisputable craftsmanship, mirror of the glorious Indian tradition: from the descendants of Gengis Khan and Tamerlano to the great maharaja XX century, commissioned to the famous European maison jewelery of inarrivable beauty and extraordinary modernity.
Ever since ancient times, India has been a land rich in precious stones and home to a goldsmith's tradition of extreme sophistication. Here gems and jewels are an integral part of everyday life's clothing and lifestyle. The unparalleled quality of Golconda's diamonds, Badakhshan's rubies - rubies - rubies - the spectacular shades of Kashmir's sapphires celebrated South Asia, where the rubies of Ceylon (the present Sri Lanka) and of Burma (the current Myanmar), and the Persian Gulfs.
So when the Moghul took power, in the sixteenth century, their jeweler masters elevated goldsmiths to a true art form.
Promoted by the Fondazione Musei Civici in Venice, in the suggestive setting of Palazzo Ducale, the Tresor of the Moghul and of the maharaja: the Al Thani Collection offers the opportunity for the Italian public to admire for the first time almost three hundred pieces from the precious collection created by His height Sheikh Hamad bin Abdullah Al Thani, a member of the royal Qatar family.
In India, jewels represent something more than a simple ornament. Each gem has its own particular meaning in the cosmic order or is attributed a propitiatory character. In popular culture, some types of jewelery reflect the rank, caste, the land of origin, the civil status, or the wealth of the wearer.
Precious metals and gemstones, moreover, were also used in courtroom furnishings, in the ceremonial dress, arms and furniture.
The Venice exhibition represents an incredible journey into the universe of Indian ornaments from the 16th century to the present. The path is marked by some milestones of an art that has never stopped hitting and fascinating the Western spirit, fueling an imaginary populated by sovereigns and divinities covered with jewels.
Curated by Amin Jaffer, Conservative Head of the Al Thani Collection and Gian Carlo Calza, a Far East art scholar, Gabriella Belli's scientific director, the exhibition will lead the public to the knowledge of legendary Indian jewels and diamonds loaded with history , an expression of a refined artistic taste and a perfect domain of technique.
The historical point of departure of the exhibition is the court style of the Moghul (1526-1858), the timorous dynasty founded after the conquest of much of northern India by Babur's hand (1526). The Moghul court immediately became the epicenter of a peculiar style, destined to spread throughout India. In particular, it is to the kingdoms of the fourth and fifth emperor Moghul who owes the so-called golden age, during which the jewelers created wonderful works that, with exceptional quality gems, merged art and culture of the East and the West.
With the decline of the kingdom, followed by a period of political instability and British colonialism in the mid-eighteenth century, the commission of high jewelery went to the rulers of the states that had arisen on the ashes of the Mughal Empire: they were maharaja, nawab or nizam. Rich and increasingly Westernized, they were commissioned to work at renowned European malls, first of all Cartier. This is how they instilled a new life in jewelery: ancient gems assembled in modern compositions and the creation of a new style, the result of the encounter between Indian traditions and the goldsmith culture of the West.SHOW AND SECTIONS
The exhibition featured with a special effect scenic set-up opens with an overview of Moghul's treasures, focusing in particular on precious stones with real inscriptions. The audience is led to admire, through the treasures of the Al Thani Collection, the incredible assortment of dynastic gems from two world-famous diamonds: Idol's Eye, the world's largest cut diamond in the world Arcot II, one of the two diamonds donated to Queen Charlotte - King George III's wife (1738-1820) - from Muhammad 'Ali Wallajah, Arcov nawab (1717-1795): both of them from the legendary Golconda mines.
These two unique pieces are exposed along with emeralds and spinels partly engraved with the names and titles of the sovereigns that possessed them. The focal points of the exhibition are the Moghul artistic taste and its dialogue with European culture, established from the Renaissance and centered on reciprocal exchange of styles and techniques. The depth of the bond between Europe and India is attested by the frequent use in Indian jewelery enamelling, a technique inspired by the art of Renaissance courts.
The second section of the exhibition is dedicated to some evocative jade and rock crystal specimens, two highly appreciated materials at the Moghul court. In Islamic culture, the jade was considered a victorious propitiating stone and was even thought to reveal the presence of the poison and to counteract the effects. The Emperor Jahangir's Cup of Wine, featuring a verse in Persian language and the title of the monarch, is considered to be the oldest dated Moghul jade. Shah Jahan's Dagger (1620-1625), a masterpiece of court art Moghul, reports the Emperor's titles on the blade, while the elsa in jade has the shape of a young man's head.
Indian jews were also highly appreciated in China as evidenced by an elegant cup dating from 1660 to 1680, decorated with the head of an ibex and engraved with a poem by Emperor Qianlong towards the late eighteenth century.
Indian jewels are often characterized by a sophisticated polychrome enamel decoration and by the use of the kundan a technique that allows to mount gems with gold without the use of markers but simply wrapping the cast with malleable gold-plating blades that develop a molecular bond around the stone.
The third section therefore presents a selection of artefacts made according to these techniques and coming from different regions of the Indian subcontinent. Among these are the splendid desk set with pen holder and inkwell (Deccan or northern India, 1575-1600), made of massive gold studded with precious stones. Such objects were often used by senior officials to write Imperial decrees and are depicted in many paintings. The piece is currently a unicum, although contemporary miniatures attest to the spread of such accessories.
Another miracle of this section is the ornament of the Tipu Sultan throne in the form of a tiger's head, made at the time of his rise to power. In gold plated with gems, the throne was torn apart after tipu's killing and the conquest of Seringapatam by British forces in 1799. Some parts of the throne entered the British Royal Family collection, while others, including this object, are you have just been found recently.
Still remarkable in this section is the superb collection of green enamel objects with embellished gems, dating back to the 18th century, of Hyderabad's workshops. Originally used in rituals and ceremonies accompanying the hearings of the court, these objects today represent symbols of the ancient Indian tradition that the general public can finally admire.
Involved in ornaments and symbols of power, the fourth section offers a repertoire of extraordinary artifacts covering a chronological arch from the 17th to the 20th centuries. The aim of this segment of the show is to shed light on the demonstrations of power within the court, both under the influence of Moghul, the East Indies Company or the British administration.
Visitors will appreciate a splendid collection of diamonds and other precious items such as the Hyderabad's Nizama Sword and the fabulous Baldachin which was part of Baroda's Pearl Carpet, commissioned by maharaja Khanderao Gaekwad between 1865 and 1870. Silk deer skin is richly decorated in silver, gold, colored glass, diamonds, rubies, sapphires, emeralds and about 950,000 pearls. The beautiful object was packed with the idea of placing it inside the tomb of the Prophet Muhammad in Medina, but the gift never left for his destination.
In this part of the exhibition - the fifth section - the protagonist is Europe with a selection of jewels made by prestigious western houses at the request of Indian princes, or inspired by Indian ornaments. It will enchant visitors the sublime enamel peacock feather created by Mellerio called Meller (Paris 1905) and acquired by maharaja Jagatjit Singh of Kapurthala.
The ruby neck of Cartier designed for one of the wives of Bhupinder Maharaj of Patiala attests to the taste of the latter, a very important customer. The section also features two of Cartier's most spectacular accomplishments for maharaja Digvijaysinhji, successor to Nawanagar's Ranjitsinhji maharaja, himself expert in precious stones and a great friend of Jacques Cartier: the wonderful tiger eye, a gold-colored diamond mounted on ornament for turbans, and a beautiful déco necklace embellished with rubies belonging to Nawanagar's personal collection.
The show ends with a homage to contemporary goldsmith art through the presentation of Indian and European jewels inspired by Indian tradition. In his Bombai lab, Viren Bhagat combines modern materials and techniques with ancient forms and decorative motifs. His works appear alongside those of Cartier and JAR in which ancient Indian gemstones are mounted.
Visitors are therefore invited to admire a magical collection that tells the story of five centuries of design and beauty. The exhibition of this unreachable splendor is also an occasion to shed light on the tangle of relations between society and the Eastern and Western cultures. In India, there are many symbols, rituals, beliefs related to the world of jewels.
The exhibition will be accompanied by a precious catalog of Skira and a program of seminars and guided tours that will allow the public to further deepen the knowledge of Indian culture and the history and value of these ancient jewels.