By choosing to present a large part of the remarkable collection of boxes and precious objects created by Prince Sadruddin Aga Kahn for his wife Catherine, the École des Arts Joailliers is offering an exceptional exhibition in the heart of Paris. An unmissable event that will last until April 25. A look back at a breathtaking collection.
Sadruddin Aga Kahn. This is a name you probably know from the diamond jubilee of the Aga Kahn III who received his weight in diamonds in 1946. But perhaps you have heard it for the famous stallions that make up the fabulous stud farm of Prince Karim Aga Kahn? Or maybe it was the marriage of the beautiful Rita Hayworth to Prince Ali. This ancient family has held the Turkish-Mogul title since the Shah of Iran bestowed it on them in 1818. Recognised by the British Raj, they have been hereditary imams and princes since 1877.
Janesich, Paris, circa 1928. Platinum, gold, diamonds and enamel. Photo: The Prince and Princess Sadruddin Aga Kahn
Cartier Paris, circa 1930. Gold, diamonds, sapphires, jadeite, coral and enamel. Photo: The Prince and Princess Sadruddin Aga Kahn
Prince Sadruddin, who died in 2003, was a great philanthropist and a particularly cultured art lover. He did not deny his commitment to the United Nations with the Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees or to UNESCO. President of the Bellerive Foundation, which he had initiated, he lived mainly in Geneva, Switzerland. This collection was created in the 1970s. Although necessities had always been part of his environment thanks to his mother – Princess Andrée – he began to collect them seriously after his marriage to Princess Catherine, to whom he dedicated his purchases, even going so far as to have a few delicate words engraved in some of the pieces that make up this rare and superb set.
Boucheron, made by A. Frey in 1926. Gold and enamel. Photo: The Prince and Princess Sadruddin Aga Kahn
Van Cleef & Arpels, made by Alfred Langlois, 1927. Gold and enamel. Photo: The Prince and Princess Sadruddin Aga Kahn
Consisting of almost 120 pieces, including boxes and small objects such as lipstick tubes and compacts, the collection has already been partially presented in various museums, including the Cooper-Hewitt in New York. We will have to wait until February 2019 to discover it at MAD Paris. But April 2018 allows us to admire a sublime sample in a perfectly mastered scenography. On the programme, you will discover pieces made between 1920 and 1930 by the best workshops and refined signatures: Van Cleef & Arpels; Strauss, Allard & Meyer; Cartier; Boucheron and even Lacloche Frères. An absolutely remarkable point of the cataloguing: the information on the manufacture is complete and the hallmarks decoded. We can also see pieces signed Van Cleef & Arpels and Lacloche whose production was entrusted to Alfred Langlois or to the firm of Strauss, Allard & Meyer, who were both designers and subcontractors.
Van Cleef & Arpels, made by Strauss, Allard & Meyer, circa 1928. Platinum, diamonds, jade, rock crystal, lapis lazuli, onyx and enamel. Photo: The Prince and Princess Sadruddin Aga Kahn
Lacloche Frères, made by Strauss, Allard & Meyer, circa 1928. Platinum, diamonds and enamel. Photo: The Prince and Princess Sadruddin Aga Kahn
Be carried away by the virtuosity of the craftsmen who made these small and precious objects. Study the finesse of Vladimir Makovsky’s mosaics, note the quality of the high-fire enamels, and hold your breath at the bold colour choices and vibrant hues of the stones. Finally, travel from Asia to the Orient, return to the Europe of the 1930s in love with geometric patterns, and pick out the flowers of diamonds, rubies and sapphires that the jewellers have represented to perfection. These 46 small boxes are as many dreams and stories that you must see.
Van Cleef & Arpels, made by Strauss, Allard & Meyer, circa 1928. Gold, diamonds, lapis lazuli, rock crystal, jade. Photo: The Prince and Princess Sadruddin Aga Kahn
Janesich, made by Strauss, Allard & Meyer, circa 1928. Aventurine, enamel, coral, amethysts, diamonds, jadeite, sapphires, yellow gold and platinum. Photo: The Prince and Princess Sadruddin Aga Kahn
The exhibition will run until 25 April 2018. It is held in the École des Arts Joailliers with the support of Van Cleef & Arpels at 31 rue Danielle Casanova in the 2nd arrondissement of Paris (a few metres from Place Vendôme). Free admission from Monday to Saturday from 12 to 19 hours. Don’t forget to get the richly illustrated catalogue. Not to be missed!
See you soon!