Where would Cartier be without the influence of Islamic art?

In more than 400 objects, a new exhibition tells the story of an enduring relationship

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For more than a century, Islamic art and architecture have inspired world-renowned jeweller Cartier's designs for some of its most dazzling and opulent pieces.

Now, the Dallas Museum of Art is exploring this history in its latest exhibition, Cartier and Islamic Art: In Search of Modernity.

The sprawling exhibit features more than 400 objects including intricately crafted tiaras, bandeaus, brooches, bracelets and vanity cases as well as sketches of Islamic art and architecture that Louis J7 Cartier and others came across during the early 20th century.

Sarah Schleuning, the Margot B Perot senior curator of Decorative Arts and Design at the museum, said she was fascinated by how Cartier and the Maison's designers were inspired by items and motifs they saw in European exhibitions or in catalogues a hundred years ago.

The exhibit is an excellent example of how people can take inspiration from anywhere.

“We wanted to help people see with their own eyes these ideas … because everything that is creatively made is filtered through us as individuals, and we make connections as well,” Ms Schleuning told The National.

“People are seeing connections, different connections maybe than I made. People bring their own ideas to it, are inspired by different things,” she said.

One of the pieces serving as an inspiration behind Maison Cartier features the seal of Emperor Aurangzeb, completed sometime in the mid-16th century.

The work, on loan from the Keir Collection of Islamic Art, is decorated with floral and shamsa designs.

That piece went on to inspire Maison Cartier to craft a gold and platinum bib necklace featuring an intricate arrangement of diamonds, 27 emerald-cult amethysts, turquoise and other jewels in a pattern similar to Aurangzeb's seal.

“It's been fascinating to see how many ways the same sort of basic ideas or motif can be reinterpreted and [reinvigorated] in new and interesting ways,” Ms Schleuning said.

Louis J Cartier, a collector of Islamic art, was inspired by exhibitions that he attended in Paris and Germany in the early 20th century.

House of Cartier began implementing Islamic art and architecture and other influence to continue the “Garland Style” that made its way inside royal courts across the globe.

Louis Cartier's collection of Persian and Indian works had also inspired his designers, who would go on to create the Art Deco aesthetic.

“There was a tremendous interest in seeing and studying [these designs] in a scientific way and starting to think about them really as innovative works of art,” Ms Schleuning said.

And Louis Cartier's youngest brother, Jacques, incorporated carved emeralds and other gemstones from his travels to India and Bahrain into his work.

The colour combinations from these sources helped to inspire the French house of Cartier's “Tutti Frutti” style, which also incorporates sapphires and rubies to create luxurious pieces.

The museum offers an array of not only exquisite jewellery, but immaculately crafted vanity cases, ewers and other objects that spark inspiration.

“You never know what will inspire people … and the great thing about the show that excites me is the power and importance museums play in culture,” Ms Schleuning said.

The exhibit was organised by the DMA and the Musee des Arts Decoratifs in Paris, in collaboration with the Louvre and with the support of Cartier.

The show runs until September 18.

Updated: June 10, 2022, 6:00 PM