Cartier The Exhibition

National Gallery of Australia, Canberra

Tiara originally made and adapted for Princess Marie Louise, a grand-daughter of Queen Victoria. Marie Louise wore this tiara to Queen Elizabeth's coronation and after her death it was inherited by her god-son Prince Richard of Gloucester. He's the current Duke of Gloucester and has lent this tiara to the exhibition.

The National Gallery of Australia is hosting a fabulous exhibition for anyone who loves jewels. It's at the gallery until July 22nd (worth braving the Canberra winter for!) The exhibition has put together a wonderful collection of Cartier, from the Cartier collection and through loans from private collections as well as royals. The June Queen's Birthday long weekend seemed like an appropriate time to make the trip to Canberra and see this exhibition.

In hindsight it's possible that a rainy Saturday morning of a long weekend wasn't the best time to visit! The exhibition was packed full of people, there was a 30 minute wait just to get in. The museum guides do wait until the first room is cleared of people before they let the next group in, and the line does move quite quickly. You are allowed to photograph the displays, however on crowded sessions, like the day I was there, you need to be quick with those photos!

The first room begins with a gorgeous tiara.
Olive branch tiara which had belonged to Princess Marie Bonaparte, she received this tiara when she married Prince George of Greece in 1907. (He was the son of King George I and an uncle of Prince Philip) Princess Marie and her husband represented her nephew King Paul of Greece at the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II and wore this tiara. Apparently other monarchs don't attend the coronation of a monarch.

A young Princess Marie wearing the tiara.

Another tiara worn at the coronation, this time by Lady Churchill, Winston Churchill's wife. She didn't own this tiara it was loaned to her for the event.

The collection doesn't just have tiaras but other jewellery as well. I particularly liked these early 20th century earrings.

Looking at the exhibits and the dates it struck me that Cartier was very much the jeweller of the 20th century. The early pieces looked quite delicate and lightweight. (Important I suppose when you've got diamonds perched on your head!)

A bit blurry but I didn't realise the significance of this jewel until I saw the painting next to it. It's one of the largest sapphires in the world, the pendant was created in 1913.

This is the painting that made me stop and go and have another look at the pendant. The painting is of Queen Marie of Romania (another grand-daughter of Queen Victoria) and she's wearing the sapphire on a chain in the painting. (The painter is Philip de Lazlo who was quite famous in the early 20th century of creating these dreamy paintings of royals and aristocrats)

Some more tiaras.

This is a bandeau tiara created in the 1920s when the fashion was to wear the tiara low on your forehead.

Citrine tiara, this is from a later period. I like the coloured stones in this one.

An aquamarine tiara.

Cartier didn't just make jewellery and the exhibition includes, clocks, frames and other object d'art.

A cocktail set.

As well as watches for men, Cartier made other accessories such as cuff links, money clips and tie pins.

There are diamonds in the hands of the clock, the background is a Chinese scene carved onto white jade.

Cherry Blossom inspired objects.

The Cartier brothers looked to Asia for inspiration with their designs and this comes through with the Indian inspired tiara of Princess Marie Louise, and other later pieces. Lots of coloured stones and chunky designs.

This clock was made as a gift for President Roosevelt, the case has his initials FDR stamped on it. Pierre Cartier presented this clock President Roosevelt in 1943, it was set to the time in Washington DC, London, Paris, Berlin and Rome (one time zone), San Francisco and Tokyo.

Queen Elizabeth II loaned the exhibition several different pieces.

A wedding gift for the then Princess Elizabeth in 1947, it was from the Nizam of Hyderabad, who at the time was one of the wealthiest individuals in the world. He had given instructions that the princess could choose anything from the Cartier collection as a gift, she choose this necklace which was made in 1935. (Obviously expensive jewellery took a while to sell! And there was a war!) In 2014 the Queen lent this necklace to the Duchess of Cambridge for a gala outing.

This necklace was included in the exhibition for Australia as the Queen brought it with her when she made her first visit in 1954 and wore the necklace in her 'wattle dress painting'.
The Queen sat for this painting while in Australia, the dress is called the 'wattle dress' as a tribute to Australia. It had decorative wattle on one shoulder and sprigs flowing from the waist to floor length. (I've seen the photos of a standing up Queen, truly a fairytale dress) This painting normally hangs in Parliament House and is on loan to the exhibition, there was a sign at Parliament House. The painter did more than one copy as the Queen has one at Buckingham Palace, she brought it out for (now disgraced!) artist Rolf Harris when he painted her for her Jubilee. (I saw the TV documentary!)

Another item on loan from the Queen, the Williamson diamond brooch, a favourite it appears as worn by the Queen quite frequently. The pink diamond in the centre is the Williamson diamond, given to her as a wedding gift in 1947. Dr Williamson was a mine owner in Tanzania and the diamond was discovered under a tree by some children! It was cut down and then made into a brooch by Cartier 1953 with diamonds also supplied by Dr Williamson. The flower is a jonquil.

The 'halo' tiara made famous in recent times as the wedding tiara of Kate Middleton, she was shown various tiaras and selected this one for her wedding. It was originally a gift by the Queen's father to her mother in 1936 just before they became king and queen. She didn't wear it very much but passed it on to her daughter Princess Margaret to wear. It was also worn by a young Princess Anne, it seems it was inherited by the Queen upon the death of her mother.

The young Princess Margaret with the tiara.

Tiara belonging to Princess Grace of Monaco.

Necklace belonging to Elizabeth Taylor, it was bought for her by her husband Mike Todd. It converts to a tiara, after her death in 2011 her jewels were sold and the money given to her AIDS foundation.

Flamingo brooch belonging to the Duchess of Windsor, she had a great collection of jewellery her husband bought her. Quite a few of her pieces were animal based.

The exhibition was over 300 pieces in it, there is so much to see. I liked the traditional style jewellery, the tiaras and the jewels with some historic background. But as the exhibition showed me, Cartier made more than just jewellery so a fascinating exhibition to experience.