French national treasures go on show in Beijing

Updated 2017-04-11 10:30:45 China Daily
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A collection of French treasures, including the Consular Sword, will be part of a display of nearly 300 precious objects at the Palace Museum in Beijing from Tuesday.

An exhibition of precious objects from France, including a dazzling sword carried by Napoleon Bonaparte at his coronation, is set to open at the Palace Museum in Beijing.

At Napoleon Bonaparte's coronation at the Notre-Dame de Paris on Dec 2, 1804, he carried a sword adorned with a 140-carat diamond that was previously set on the coronation crown of Louis XV and Louis XVI, and 42 other gemstones from France's national treasures.

The Consular Sword-a national treasure itself-now with the Chateau de Fontainebleau, will be on display at the Palace Museum in Beijing, also known as the Forbidden City, from Tuesday. It will be the first time it has left the country.

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A collection of French treasures, including the Consular Sword, will be part of a display of nearly 300 precious objects at the Palace Museum in Beijing from Tuesday.

The sword, which will be featured at the Imperial Splendours:The Art of Jewelry since the 18th Century exhibition,will be part of a display of nearly 300 other precious objects at the Meridian Gate Gallery.

According to Karine Hugenaud, deputy director of the museum affiliated with Chaumet, the French high-end jewelry maker behind the exhibits, the oldest item on display is a gold box decorated with shells and cloisonne enamel.

Made in 1789, it is the earliest surviving work of jeweler Marie-Etienne Nitot, the founder of Chaumet.

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A collection of French treasures, including the Consular Sword, will be part of a display of nearly 300 precious objects at the Palace Museum in Beijing from Tuesday.

“The exhibits are closely connected with history, and show the influence of many art schools, ranging from classicalism to Art Deco,” she says.

A malachite cameo parure belonging to Empress Josephine, and a daywear parure with micro-mosaics belonging to Empress Marie-Louise represent Napoleon's two marriages.

A parure typically consists of a combination of a matching necklace, earrings, brooch, bracelet and often a diadem or tiara.

According to Hugenaud, there are more than 20 tiaras on display, created over a period of nearly two centuries. Nature is a key theme in the works, especially in the hair ornaments and brooches.

“The jewelers' creations express a highly sensitive interpretation of the beauty of flowers, fruit and foliage,” she says.

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