You will have to wait until October 6 to discover this new hub of artistic pleasures, but it looks like “L’Ecole des Arts joailliers” (Jewelry school), sponsored by Van Cleef & Arpels, is bound to become the place where to be seen, this fall. The Hotel de Marcy-Argenteau at 16 bis bd Montmartre, between musée Grévin and Hotel Drouot, was entirely refurbished by the very fashionable Constance Guisset, well known for her “Vertigo” suspension and married to Laurent Le Bon, President of the Pompidou center. It will be open to the public for the first time in its two hundred and fifty years history. The School, which is established in Hong Kong and will soon open in Shanghai and in Dubai, has a mission of teaching gemology and the history of jewelry design with conferences and practical courses in a lab. But it also has an exhibition gallery where access is free, you just need to book. Right now, “Un Art Nouveau” is taking place at 31 rue Danielle Casanova their old premises. The new space will include the school, an exhibition gallery in the former Salle des fêtes inspired by Charles Garnier in 1890, a large bookstore on chic lifestyles and jewelry, and a restaurant, both at street level.
Both Boieldieu and Rossini lived there at some point and the hotel takes its name from Queen Maria Theresa of Austria’s ambassador, comte Florimond-Claude de Mercy-Argenteau, who organized Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI th’ wedding. When the queen fled to Varennes she gave the ambassador her casket full of jewelry which was never seized by the revolutionaries. The area was definitely very entertaining in the 19 th century with Opéra comique next door and all the cafés des Grands Boulevards. Some of the night action has come back with the lively quartier of le Sentier nearby and during the day, Hotel Drouot, the auction house, drawing many art lovers and collectors. From what I gathered, the idea is to make a cultural salon out of this large space which is also very near the workshops of the precious stone carvers of rue La Fayette.
The first exhibition will include 120 pieces of “Stage jewels from la Comédie Française” curated by Agathe Sanjuan, a project prepared since 2017 with Professor Guillaume Glorieux, head of research and teaching at the School. This is the 12 th exhibition produced in twelve years and the collaboration with Comédie Française has brought many discoveries and joys thanks to their very rich archives. In the 19 th century, actors provided their own jewelry so the pieces are made of glass stones but the setting is apparently so professional that the restoration process was very interesting. One of the difficulties was to distinguish between the real and the fake. Real coral and pearls made of glass, which are impossible to reproduce today, and therefore hard to repair…
Some of the pieces which are shown, used to belong to François Joseph Talma, the actor who dated Pauline Bonaparte and was so close to Napoleon that he often acted for him when the Emperor was travelling and to Rachel, one of the most famous French actresses of the time. A comb with coral pearls made for her looked like a diadem and another one with glass pearls and cameo is extraordinarily romantic. A pin and a ring which belonged to Sarah Bernhardt, crowns, swords, pectoral, the collection is fun and evocative of the luxuriance of the times.
The Library is open to all and includes six thousand books on jewelry while the bookstore “l’Escarboucle”, should become a great social place for book signings and International coffee table books on chic lifestyle. It is run by Daniel Mitchell who was born in Brazil of Scottish ancestry and worked for Galignani’s for many years.
You can visit all summer the Art Nouveau jewelry exhibition at Ecole de Joaillerie until September 30, 32 rue Danielle Casanova.
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