Rococo Exotic: French Mounted Porcelains and the Allure of the East, March 6 through June 10, 2007
In 1915 Henry Clay Frick acquired a magnificent group of eighteenthcentury objets d’art to complete the décor of his new home at 1 East 70th Street. Among these was a striking pair of large mounted porcelains, the subject of an upcoming decorative arts focus presentation on view in the Cabinet gallery, the museum’s first ceramics exhibition in fifteen years. Visually splendid, delightfully inventive, and quintessentially French, the jars fuse eighteenth-century French collectors’ love of rare Asian porcelains with their enthusiasm for natural exotica. Assembled in Paris shortly before 1750, the Frick jars are a hybrid of imported Chinese porcelain and French gilt-bronze mounts in the shape of bulrushes (curling along the handles) and shells, sea fans, corals, and pearls (on the lids). Displayed alongside these objects are French drawings and prints as well as actual seashells and corals, all from New York collections. Together, the objects illustrate the convergence ofthe natural and the humanly wrought in the production of such luxury wares and probe the fascination with the exotic that lies at the heart of rococo design. Organized by Kristel Smentek, Andrew W. Mellon Curatorial Fellow, Rococo Exotic: French Mounted Porcelains and the Allure of the East is on view at The Frick Collection from March 6 through June 10, 2007.