Guest stars: the royal throne and Prince Albert II’s private collection
After bringing all the sumptuousness of the Forbidden City to Monaco last summer, Grimaldi is readying itself to send China the exhibition “Princes and Princesses of Monaco: a European Dynasty (13th–21st century)”.
This new exhibition will take place in the heart of the Forbidden City, in a dual space of 1,400 square metres including the splendid Meridian Hall. Running from 7 September to 11 November 2018, it will offer an overview of more than 700 years of the history of the most ancient of Europe’s dynasties – the Grimaldis – founded in 1297 on a Rock whose fame has since spread worldwide. Planned in association with the Royal Family and with the backing of numerous Monaco institutions, it will take a straightforwardly chronological approach intended by curator Thomas Fouilleron, holder of a Ph.D in history and director of the Palace Archives and Library, to explore the grand themes of this small principality’s history. The artistic adviser is Stéphane Bern, TV and radio personality, journalist and writer, whose passionate interest in the history of the great monarchies has led to a longtime acquaintance with the Princes of Monaco.
The main hall will focus on the rise of the Grimaldi dynasty and its establishment as a sovereign monarchy via a subtle interplay of alliances amid the vagaries of European history between the 13th and 17th centuries. The stature of Monaco’s princes during the 17th and 18th centuries will be illustrated through recreations of court practice and their art collections. One of the emblematic items from this epoch is a fully restored processional canopy of velvet embroidered with the family crest – a witness to the enthronement and marriage of so many Monegasque monarchs during the 18th and 19th centuries. The recreated Palace spaces, and especially the Throne Room – this is the first time the symbolic princely attribute has left the Principality – will be an opportunity for visitors to get to know the princes who modernised Monaco: in particular Charles III, creator of the new city of Monte Carlo and associated with the rise of gambling and tourism; and Albert I, whose passion for the sea and science is perpetuated today by Albert II.
The second space has been designed as a magnificent wedding hall, in reference to those marriages whose blend of glamour and tradition, from Princess Grace to Princess Charlène, gave the Principality its mythic dimension. This section will open with the iconic Prince Rainier III/Grace Kelly couple, with information about their life in Monaco and personal items once belonging to the Hollywood actress who became a princess: the Christian Dior, Chanel and Yves Saint-Laurent clothes that contributed to the Grace Kelly style and some forty pieces of fine jewellery – diadems, brooches, necklaces, bracelets, tiaras – from Van Cleef & Arpels and Cartier. The exhibition will close with – another first – His Highness Prince Albert II’s private picture collection: testimony to the Grimaldi family’s enduring interest in the fine arts, and painting in particular, since the 17th century. Being shown outside the Palace for the first time, this group includes works by Monet, Renoir, Cézanne, Dufy, Bellotto and Poussin.
The Chinese public, with its love of deep-rooted culture and tradition, is going to be more than delighted with this journey through a thousand years of history.
Originally published at Grimaldi Forum