The Al Thani collection is (again) amazing at Hôtel de la Marine!

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Arundel Ziodac, Italy cir 1540, cornaline, enamel gold, diamonds, ruby designed on a model by Raphaël

For its second exhibition curated with Emma Edwards from the V&A museum in London, Amin Jaffer, curator of the Al Thani collection, has again created a “Wunderkammer” of treasures, as the Germans called their precious rooms in the Renaissance, 1400-1600. They jointly unveiled numerous jewels, crystal cups, paintings and royal presents which glitter in the dark rooms of Hotel de la Marine. You first enter the corridor where seven pendants from Prague, Germany and Italy, made of cornaline, enamel, ruby and diamonds, appear in full light. Each piece is a miniature sculpture which illustrates the extraordinary creativity of Renaissance goldsmiths. The precious stones were brought back by the first maritime expeditions from Asia and America.

Pint, Kyoto Japan, 1600-1620, V&A

The variety of objects exchanged as royal presents is extraordinary, whether they are caskets with painted bone incrustations or a pin with a sea monster made of a huge pearl. A blue mounted crystal vase, two tondi from Verone which used to ornate a chess, an inkwell in majolica representing a man playing the organ, a series of crystal cups perfectly staged on silver columns, a tiny bucket in lapis lazuli made in Florence in 1600 and a small bust of Emperor Hadrian, from 117-138 set in Venice in 1550-1600, are all dreamlike objects. I was totally overwhelmed by the beauty of each individually. Two tazze “Aldobrandini” made in gilt silver describing the life of Tiberius (V&A) and the life of Vespasian (Al Thani) are reunited for the first time. They belonged to the Austrian dealer Frédéric Spitzer in teh 19 th century, and later to John Pierpont Morgan.

Vittorio Crivelli, St Jérome and St Catherine of Alexandria, Ferno 1481, V&A

One of the great quality of this show is that it is small, and every piece is dazzling. In the larger room paintings of Henry VIII by Holbein the Young, Marguerite of Habsburg by Juan Pantoja de la Cruz and a portrait of a lady by Lucas Cranach the Younger are staggering.

Lucas Cranach the Younger, Portrait of a lady, Wittemberg, cir 1530-1540, Al Thani collection

There are more chefs d’oeuvres like an automat in the shape of a turtle made in Germany in 1600, a St Michael in Gold made in the Burgundy cir 1470, an ivory box with sapphires from Kotte, in Sri Lanka, 1557, a globe-clock from Augsburg from 1584, a codex by Leonardo da Vinci, and an exceptional sculpture of “Méléagre”  by l’Antico, made in Mantova in 1484-1490 lent by the V&A.

Trade and Exotica, The Game-Cock Salt,  England, c. 1560–70 , Nautilus shell with silver gilt mounts, Victoria and Albert Museum, Drinking vessel, sea unicorn Cologne, 1600–30 Turbo marmoratus, silver gilt, The Al Thani Collection,

This is probably the most precious exhibition of the moment in Paris, set in a perfect way with superb lighting, and if you have never visited the Hotel de la Marine, take extra time to see it.

Leonardo da Vinci, Codex Forster III, Milan, circa 1490-1493, Victoria & Albert Museum, bequeathed by John Forster

Until June 30, Place de la Concorde.

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One Comment on “The Al Thani collection is (again) amazing at Hôtel de la Marine!”

  1. Merci chère Laure pour tes commentaires passionnants de Paris. Je me régale chaque Mardi!
    Bons baisers de New York.

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