Cristal is a feast at Musée de Cluny

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Fan, 1140, Copper, quartz © Dommuseum Hildesheim, Photo, Florian Monheim

There is something magical about visiting Musée de Cluny, where seeing the tapestry of the “Lady and the Unicorn” is a unique experience. The museum has been refurbished eighteen months ago and has gained in luminosity and attractiveness. The exhbiiton “Travel through Cristal” (until January 14) is a precious addition to the permanent collection. Considered as a rare stone until it could be artificially reproduced in the XX th century, rock Crystal or quartz symbolizes purity, transparency  and fascinates with its capacity to diffract light. Its name comes from Krystallos, “ice” in ancient Greek. The techniques of extracting rock crystal and of polishing it have been extensively described since the 13 th century and the unearthing in Cologne in 2005 of a medieval lapidary workshop has helped understand its production in the West.This show includes objects from around the world where rock crystal is recognized for its protective and magical powers.

Arm-reliquary, Hildesheim (?) second half of the XIIe century, oak, silver, quartz, Köln, Museum Schnütgen © Photo : Stephan Kube/SQB

A first century Greek statue of Aphrodite crouching was lent by the Getty museum,  and it is presented next to a X th century reliquaries of a lion sitting on a coconut from the treasure of Münster cathedral. An exceptional necklace of 17 crystal pearls comes from Mesopotamia,  plaque representing Christ’s baptism was lent by the Rouen museum of Antiquities, Christ crucifixion made in the IX th century was lent by the British museum. Jewelry is  very present in the show with a Venetian bishop’s Crosse and a ringworm the Della Rovere family, and reliquary in the shape of an apple from Köln in 1185, and one in the shape of a carriage from Orléans in 1200.

Crystal from Saint-Denis, Crucifixion, Court of Charles the Bald, 3rd quarter of IX th century © The British Museum, London,Dist. RMN- Grand Palais 

A vase in the shape of a dragon belonged to Cardinal Mazarin and Louis XIV, earrings in the shape of a pearl, Byzantine cicadas and numerous engraved cups are all enchanting.  Used for luxurious banquets and often made in Milan, glasses and cups are used at royal courts and Catherine de Medicis was one of its fervent adept.  Yet most of teh pieces presented here had a religious use proving how rich the Church was at the time. All in all two hundred pieces mostly from the Middle Ages and the Renaissance illuminate the rooms of the Frigidarium of Musée de Cluny.

Aiguière in the shape of a dragon, Milan, end of the XVI th century, Paris Musée du Louvre

Contemporary sculptor Patrick Neu shows a few of his creations like the “Crown of Thorn” made in 2015 in led crystal or “Danse Macabre” sculpted on rock crystal.

This well researched exhibition is both very serious and whimsical and can attract children and parents alike.

Until January 14, Musée de Cluny

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2 Comments on “Cristal is a feast at Musée de Cluny”

  1. Un vrai plaisir , chaque Mardi matin !et même en vacances…
    Quel beau travail d’éveiller les autres à la curiosité… à la beauté!

  2. It is a gorgeous exhibit. Wide ranging and wonderful. It is lovely to see some of the pieces I was especially drawn to in this exhibit here in your blog.

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