Home' Scoop Homes and Art : SHA 31 Summer 2011 Contents 96 HOMES & ART SUMMER 2011
Art Gallery of WA | Crowning glories
iven the fanfare surrounding
the wedding of Prince
William to Kate Middleton, it
seems time has done nothing
to dull our fascination with
royalty. However, it’s clear when you view
Princely Treasures: European Masterpieces
1600-1800 at the Art Gallery of Western
Australia (AGWA) that the years have
reined in its ostentatious trimmings.
Hailing from the Victoria & Albert
Museum (V&A) in London, the exhibition
features 90 artworks and objects of a
variety rarely seen on our shores. It
represents acquisitions by people of great
power and wealth, from all over Europe,
who commissioned the finest artisans
to mould precious materials into finery.
It’s the sumptuous wealth and luxurious
craftsmanship that widen the eyes. In our
current climate of prudent economy, the
grand scale of this display – like the 20,000
pieces of Japanese and Chinese porcelain
owned by Augustus II, Elector of Saxony
and King of Poland – is difficult to grasp.
The exhibition presents themes
encapsulating important aspects of
European courtly life. The opening section
presents key patrons of the arts, while
subsequent areas focus on the importance
All that glitters isn’t gold at the Art Gallery of Western Australia
this summer, where the Princely Treasures exhibition is luring
visitors with a rare coupling of glamour and history
Marquise de Pompadour (1721-64),
Francois Boucher, 1758
of war, the role of religion, the peaceful
arts of the domestic interior and the
magnificence of personal adornment.
AGWA director Stefano Carboni says
the exhibition is a coup for Perth, the only
place in Australia to host it. “It will not only
delight visitors young and old – including
art lovers, history buffs and antiques
enthusiasts – it will also provide an
intimate view into the lives of the wealthy
and powerful in Europe’s past,” he says.
Of all the great museums in London,
the V&A holds a niche appeal in that
it looks beyond straight art-historical
or archaeological finds. Its collections
span 2000 years and encompass fashion,
architecture, design and art.
The museum’s modus operandi is to
create exhibitions that can travel, bridging
the gap between civilisations and cultures.
Prince Albert’s original vision for the
museum was one where all levels of society
could learn and be educated.
“It’s not easy to experience this in
Australia,” says Melissa Harpley, AGWA
curator. “In the past we didn’t have the
opportunity to access something like this,
as we lack that breadth of history.”
While the exhibition exalts, it also
highlights the scandals and seductive
persuasions of the era. It’s a rare opportunity
to be immersed in precious things with
a rich past, and to hear tales that would
otherwise be lost in history books.
Until January 9, 2012. Visit princelytreasures.
WORDS Jessica Rule
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