Until March 15, 2015, the Denver Art Museum will be the sole worldwide venue for 250 dazzling Cartier jewels and watches.
Platinum, diamond, and emerald necklace worn by Countess of Granard; Cartier London, 1932.
Next time you're in Denver, don't miss your chance to see Brilliant: Cartier in the 20th Century. Featuring jewelry, timepieces, and precious objects produced between 1900 and 1975, the exhibition depicts Cartier’s rise to preeminence in the midst of historical events, from the era of the Czars of Russia, to the Roaring Twenties in America, and more—as Cartier transformed itself into one of the world’s most prestigious names in luxury goods.
Mystery clock with single axle; Cartier Paris, 1967.
In 1900, Paris-based jewelry firm Cartier was poised at the brink of a new era, attracting aristocracy from all of Europe. By 1909, when Cartier opened its New York branch, Americans such as J.P. Morgan and the Vanderbilt family became loyal clientele. Indeed, over the past century, the brand’s customer list reads as a virtual who’s who of the 20th century.
The incredible exhibition reflecting Cartier’s work features a special section focused on items crafted especially for men, including the modern wristwatch, elegant and complex pocket watches, cuff links, pocket items, cocktail and desk accessories, and inscribed cigarette cases, to name a few.
Another theme of the exhibit is Art Deco. Cartier was a leader in the innovative Art Deco movement of the 1910s and 1920s, highlighting a bold look with a new emphasis on color and geometry. The Maison utilized new materials in this era including jade, coral, and black onyx. In post-WWI mode, Cartier created stunning interpretations of international events as well.
Cigarette case; Cartier Paris, 1927.
Moving forward in time, the exhibit highlights Cartier’s Age of Glamour and its Icons of Style, including pieces for the brand’s most famous clients: Daisy Fellowes, Wallis Warfield Simpson, the Duchess of Windsor, Princess Grace of Monaco, Barbara Hutton, Elizabeth Taylor, and María Félix. Cartier’s original designs were essential to the self expression of the individuals who shaped 20th-century culture and fashion.
Drawings are displayed alongside historic photos and other collateral material in the exhibit—all setting the cultural stage for the Cartier pieces. In addition to items loaned by the Cartier Collection, the exhibition includes loans from museums and private collections in the United States and Europe.
The breadth and scope of this exhibit, organized by the Denver Art Museum and curated by Margaret Young-Sánchez, is a once-in-a-lifetime must-see.
PHOTOGRAPHY COURTESY OF NICK WELSH/CARTIER COLLECTION
Founder and editor-in-chief of ATimelyPerspective.com, Roberta Naas is a veteran award-winning journalist in the watch industry with more than 25 years of experience. She was the first woman watch editor in the US market—breaking in to an “all boys network” with a pioneering spirit that would be her signature to this day. Naas brings responsible, factual—yet always timely and insightful—reporting of the watch industry to the forefront.