France Honors Charlotte Vignon with The Medal of Chevalier of The Order of Arts and Letters

Charlotte Vignon

On Wednesday, May 23, Charlotte Vignon, Curator of Decorative Arts of The Frick Collection, will receive the insignia of Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters from Cultural Counselor of the French Embassy Bénédicte de Montlaur, in a private ceremony held at the Frick. The Ordre des Arts et des Lettres was established in 1957 to recognize eminent artists and writers, as well as individuals who have contributed significantly to furthering the arts in France and throughout the world. The Order is given out three times annually to only a few hundred people worldwide. Among the Americans who have received this award in the past are Meryl Streep, Agnes Gund, Richard Meier, Robert Paxton, Robert Redford, Uma Thurman, Ornette Coleman, Judith Jamison, Jim Jarmusch, and Frick Director Ian Wardropper.

A specialist in eighteenth-century French furniture and decorative arts, Charlotte Vignon was appointed in 2009 as the first decorative arts curator at The Frick Collection. Over the past nine years, she has brought renewed attention to the Frick’s remarkable decorative arts holdings through her work on the permanent collection, special exhibitions, promised gifts, new acquisitions, and special loans. Vignon is a Trustee and Visiting Associate Professor at The Bard Graduate Center, New York, where she teaches courses focused on European decorative arts and the history of collecting. In 2016, she curated the acclaimed exhibition Pierre Gouthière: Virtuoso Gilder at the French Court, the first monographic study on the French bronze chaser and gilder who worked for Louis XV and Louis XVI. Following its presentation in New York, the show traveled to the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris. The project was nominated this fall by Apollo Magazine as one of the best international museum exhibitions of the year. The catalogue, written by Vignon and Christian Baulez, former chief curator at the Musée de Versailles, is the first major study on the artist since 1912 and the only comprehensive volume published in English. Vignon also organized the Frick’s current exhibition, Fired by Passion: Masterpieces of Du Paquier Porcelain from the Sullivan Collection, a year-long installation inspired by the generous gift of fourteen pieces of Du Paquier porcelain made to the Frick in 2016 by Paul Sullivan and Trustee Melinda Martin Sullivan.

Other acclaimed exhibitions organized by Vignon include Porcelain, No Simple Matter: Arlene Shechet and the Arnhold Collection (2016), From Sèvres to Fifth Avenue: French Porcelain at The Frick Collection (2015), Coypel's Don Quixote Tapestries: Illustrating a Spanish Novel in Eighteenth-Century France (2015), Precision and Splendor: Clocks and Watches at The Frick Collection (2014), Turkish Taste at the Court of Marie-Antoinette (2011), and Exuberant Grotesques: Renaissance Maiolica from the Fontana Workshop (2009). In addition to authoring numerous exhibition catalogues, Vignon has contributed to several publications on the museum’s holdings and is the author of The Frick Collection Decorative Arts Handbook (2015), which highlights stellar works from rare Limoges enamels and Sèvres porcelain to French eighteenth-century furniture and early clocks and watches.

A native of France, Vignon received her Ph.D. from the Sorbonne, Paris, writing her dissertation on the role of the Duveen Brothers in shaping the international market for European decorative arts and Chinese porcelain between 1880 and 1940. In the spring of 2019, her book on the topic will be co-published by the Frick and D Giles Ltd, offering a much-needed update on this colorful and influential family of dealers. Vignon has held fellowships at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Cleveland Museum of Art, and The Frick Collection, where she was an Andrew W. Mellon Curatorial Fellow from 2007 to 2009.

Comments Director Ian Wardropper “We are thrilled that Charlotte Vignon’s many achievements and contributions to the field have been recognized by the French government with the award of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. As the first Frick decorative arts curator, her dedication and groundbreaking research have profoundly enriched our interpretation and understanding of this important area of our holdings. Through special exhibitions, education programs, and publications, — not to mention the courses she teaches at the Bard Graduate Center—, her scholarly research has expanded the public’s knowledge and appreciation of the decorative arts, including French furniture, porcelain, oriental carpets, and enamels. We look forward to celebrating Charlotte’s many accomplishments at the award ceremony in May.”


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