Since the 18th century, Sèvres porcelain is the fusion of Art, Savoir-faire, and Power, with all combined to pursue the exquisite - the absolute perfection. It has been a fantasy of material and phenomenal artistic achievement from that period. Sèvres porcelain was first collected by French Court, then followed by all the influential figures in the world, from Catherine the Great of Russia, the Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle, to the Rothschild, J.P. Morgan, and the Wallace Collection in the 20th century. It is the symbol of men’s power, fortune and privilege. On the occasion of Le French May 2015, University Museum and Art Gallery of University of Hong Kong (UMAG) will present the exhibition Sèvres: Porcelain of the Kings from 10 June to 16 August. The exhibition is co-curated by Ms. Sonia Banting, European ceramics curator of the Musée National de la Céramique in Sèvres, Mr. Pierre M. Dumonteil, founder of Galerie DUMONTEIL, and UMAG Director Dr. Florian Knothe. This special event is jointly organised by world-renowned Sèvres, Galerie DUMONTEIL, UMAG and Le French May. CEO of la Cité de la Céramique Ms. Romane Sarfati and the Consul General of France in Hong Kong and Macau Mr. Arnaud Barthèlemy will attend the grand inauguration ceremony on 9 June, 2015.
The exhibition draws from near 300 years of extraordinary productions of the Manufacture de Sèvres, which features more than 110 pieces and comprises of a variety of types with especially refined appearance and high levels of craftsmanship.
An introduction section showcases a series of photos titled The Transfigured Clay (La Terre Transfigurée) captured by Sophie Zénon, who discovered the savoir-faire of this prestigious institution, visited 27 studios and shared the life of 150 craftsmen at Sèvres. The centrepiece of the introduction is the sculpture L'Amour Ménaçant, created during the time when the famous French Rococo sculptor Étienne Maurice Falconet was at Sèvres. The sculpture 1 depicts the cupid who is resting a finger on his lip, ready to unleash the arrow filled with love, whispering and inviting visitors to begin the journey of the Art of Ceramics.
The main section of the exhibition will be divided into 8 stylistic strands - "The boldness of white", "Sèvres blue", "Gold, the luxury", "Dreaming a vase", "Splendour of the French table", "Sculptures", "Extravagance of decor", and "Balanced lines" - with each one illustrated by an array of spectacular and iconic exhibits presenting the chronological development of ceramic production within each style. Visitors will be able to discover works from the time of Louis XV until the actual time passing by the period of Art Deco, as well as the innovative experiments of the Manufacture de Sèvres with some of the most important figures in the history of art and design, such as Zao Wou-ki (赵无极), nineteenth-century French sculptor Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux, Italian architects and designers Michele De Lucchi, Andrea Branzi, Ettore Sottsass, sculptors Jean Arp, Marcel Derny, Pierre Charpin, Louise Bourgeois and Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama (草间弥生). The rich collection is also highlighted by the only ceramic piece ever created by Auguste Rodin in his lifetime, as well as a selection of dinnerware sets which Sèvres specially designed for National Assembly of France. The historical connection between Sèvres and China will be illuminated through the porcelain piece commissioned by the Chinese Emperor Qianlong (乾隆) at Sèvres - once the royal Manufacture of France in the 18th century.
During the exhibition, visitors will be able to engage directly with works of art through talks led by curators and invited specialists focusing on specific aspects of the collection. A special review of the exhibition and the history of Sèvres will also be available in a catalog specially published for this occasion, representing an opportunity for international audience to explore this sophisticated western craftsmanship of nearly three hundred years.