A private Hong Kong museum will lend 265 vanity cases from its collection to the Summer Palace in Beijing for “Beauty through the Ages: A Dazzling Display of Vanity,” an exhibition opening September 30.
The Liang Yi museum has one of the world's largest private collections of bejeweled clutches, compacts, and powder boxes — including designs by Cartier, Boucheron, and Van Cleef & Arpels — and the Beijing curation will showcase a wide range of these from the gold mesh bags of the late 1800s, to the Art Deco period, and pieces from the 1940s and 1950s.
Key items include a Hermes compact, a Cartier nécessaire and a delicate egg-shaped powder compact.
Nécessaires and minaudières, often glittering with precious stones, were once a staple of ladies’ eveningwear and offer an elegant peek at the lifestyle of a bygone era.
“The Liang Yi vanities collection tells the story about the history of cosmetics and showcases exquisite workmanship. Some of these antique cases were inspired by the West’s fascination with the East, and similarly to the Summer Palace they are valuable pieces that exemplify cross-culture exchanges during this period,” notes Qin Lei, assistant curator at the Summer Palace.
“Beauty through the Ages: A Dazzling Display of Vanity” will run September 30-November 30.