How Jewelry: The Body Transformed Exhibit is highlighting the Public’s Interest in Jewelry

Do you consider jewelry art? What kind of jewelry? I think of jewelry as art but only certain kinds I really enjoy viewing. The JAR exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City was an art show to me. It was also the first time I went to the Met. I made the trip again earlier in the month to see Jewelry: The Body Transformed before it ends on Sunday February 24th. It opened in November, a short time for viewing, if you had to travel to see it. Jewelry featured in museums is becoming more common. The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston has their own jewelry focused exhibit that started in November 2018 as well, that exhibit goes into 2020 and I hope to see it soon!

For this post I’ll give some highlights from the exhibit, what I thought of it and look at how this might set the trend for many more shows focusing on jewelry.

The Exhibit

The exhibit was across 2 rooms with many different eras and styles covered. Below are only a few of the many pieces that have played a part in human culture.

Modern and Ancient Jewelry

Not everything was sparkly the bracelet on the left made in 1995 of Polyester and resin by Peter Chang, bracelet on right is from Thailand made of Bronze around 300 B.C.-200 A.D.
Both are earrings, the pair further back is from the 5th-8th century Peru of sodalite. gold, turquoise and shell; earrings closer are Polynesian, early 19th C made of whale ivory

Jewelry from Other Cultures

Chinese headdress with phoenixes and flowers from Ming Dynasty made of gold, rubies, pearls, cat’s-eyes, iron
Really enjoyed seeing this Jewish wedding ring from 17th-19th C made of gold and enamel, from either Eastern Europe or Venice
Indian carved brooch from the Mughal period, setting made later by Cartier

18th & 19th Century Jewelry

Bracelets with portrait miniatures, 1840, New York, gold, watercolor on ivory, on reverse is hair
Dress ornament, Georges Fouquet, 1923, made of jade, onyx, diamonds, enamel, platinum
Brooch with lotuses and pendant moonstones, with gold and enamel by Ferdinand Hauser, 1912-13
Some costume pieces were included my favorite by Yves Saint Laurent, glass, rhinestone, metal from 1983-84

Jeweled Accessories

Ceremonial neck armor, French, 1600, steel and gold
A more modern take on armor by Shaun Leane for Alexander McQueen, 2000
Silk Evening gloves by Elsa Schiaparelli, 1935-40
Jade dagger with sheath, Indian, 19th Century

Jewelry of Business

One of my favorite sections was themed Jewelry of Business and included Tiffany & Co, Marcus & Co., Lalique, Cellini, to name a few. These were successful businesses and many are still around. I did feel something was missing from the exhibit.

Rene Lalique, 1897-99, gold, enamel, amethysts,opals

What did I see missing from Jewelry: The Body Transformed?

One designer missing was my favorite, Faberge. I did not see anything of his work in the exhibit. He should have had items in the Business of Jewelry. The Met has a display of his work so after I was done looking at Jewelry: The Body Transformed, I found my Faberge section. See a photo of some of the Imperial Eggs below.

Faberge Eggs

The Future Exhibits

If Faberge had been included I would say this was a near perfect exhibit. I think that maybe the Met should look into creating a larger exhibit dedicated to the Russian goldsmith. For the future of exhibits I see more jewelry exhibits. Hillwood just finished their Faberge exhibit and I mentioned about the MFA current exhibit. I think that the interest is there museums and curators need to look at the business and workmanship angle to better educate the public on the artistry and craft of jewelry.

Thank you for reading and visit the exhibit at the Met if you are in the area. Please leave me a comment if you went or what pieces you liked from my post. Looking forward to posting more on Data in the Rough!

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