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June 21, 2024

10,000 years of luxury in pictures; an exhibition at Louvre Abu Dhabi

Opened to public in 2017, Louvre Abu Dhabi marked its second anniversary this year. With a series of spectacular exhibitions and art shows, Louvre has highlighted cross-cultural collections each time.

Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi. Photo: Ismail Noor
Antique necklace made from natural Gulf pearls with multi-coloured enamel and white stones; c. 1880, India

Breaking boundaries with an impressive concept this time, Louvre Abu Dhabi is currently showcasing its first comprehensive exhibit- 10,000 Years of Luxury, tracing the world of luxury; its history, human connection and evolution.


Dress in two parts, C. 1867, Sapphire silk velvet embroidered, in gold thread; Paris, Musée des Arts Décoratifs/ Photo: © MAD, Paris-Jean Tholance

On display until February 18, 2020, this multifaceted theme explores couture fashion, jewellery, design, furniture and visual art. One can say, the curation is a fine balance of the ancient era and the new age, highlighting around 350 valuable objects across high-end labels like Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels, Chanel, Christian Dior, Elie Saab and Yves Saint Laurent. An exquisite piece from the collection is the oldest pearl in the world (according to Louvre Abu Dhabi) and one of the largest assortments of Roman antique silverware.

Dress by ELIE SAAB, France, Spring/Summer 2019

10,000 years of luxury by Louvre Abu Dhabi is organised by Olivier Gabet, Director of Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris and Agence France-Muséums in sponsorship with the only luxury department store in Abu Dhabi, Tryano.

Noisettes Necklace By René Lalique Paris, C. 1900. ; Paris, Musée Des Arts Décoratifsmusée Des Arts Décoratifs, Paris – Christophe Dellière
Inlaid bracelet © RMN, Grand Palais (musée du Louvre), Stéphane Maréchalle

Perception of luxury takes centre stage here, from the past until now. Weaving the exhibition with a seamless flow, curators have sourced collectibles from around Middle Eastern, French and various other local luxury art institutions.

Department of Culture and Tourism, Abu Dhabi; Photo: Musthafa Aboobacker/ Seeing Things
Boscoreale Treasure, Italy, 1st century BC-1st century CE, silver and gold; Musée du Louvre, Department of Greek, Etruscan and Roman Antiquities, Photo: RMN-Grand Palais (musée du Louvre)/Stéphane Maréchalle

The presentation begins with objects placed from the ancient Middle Eastern empires, suggesting that the cost, rarity and social beliefs shaped the definition of luxury. As the trading routes expanded and newer techniques developed, luxury spread to many continents.

‘Cosmetic spoon’, Egypt, late 18th or 19th dynasty (1300-1186 BC) ; Musée du Louvre, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais/Christian Decamps

Louvre Abu Dhabi has set up an experiential model of 18th century Parisian boutique, which brings the luxury market of Paris to limelight. Art dealers, also known as marchand-mercier contributed significantly in commercialising luxury in the French capital.

Musée des Arts Décoratifs. Photo: Department of Culture and Tourism– Abu Dhabi/Hervé Lewandowski

Towards the end of the 19th century, Art Nouveau and Art Deco movements had a strong hold in the society, whereas in the 20th century, the meaning of luxury was associated more with natural resources and materials. This paradox shapes the depiction of artworks and objects in 10,000 years of luxury.

The Hourglass (Le Sablier), Marc Newson, HG Timepiece– Switzerland Suisse. Courtesy: Philippe Joner
Department of Culture and Tourism– Abu Dhabi; Photo: Musthafa Aboobacker/ Seeing Things

One prominent question is highlighted in the final stage of the exhibit; what is luxury in 2019? Here the conclusion proposes that contemporary luxury is defined by time, space and freedom.

Pratishtha Rana


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