Some of a Sheikh’s Treasures Find a Home in Paris


PARIS — As settings go, it might hardly be a higher match.

On Nov. 18, the newly renovated Hôtel de la Marine on the Place de la Concorde grew to become the long-term house for a extremely curated choice of objects from the Al Thani Collection, well known as one of crucial and eclectic personal artwork collections in the world.

The neo-Classical stone constructing was commissioned by King Louis XV and designed by his principal architect, Ange-Jacques Gabriel, to match the Hôtel de Crillon on the other facet of the Rue Royale. During the reign of Louis XVI, the constructing was the royal repository for furnishings, tapestries and even the crown jewels (which have been stolen one September night time in 1792).

It sometimes was opened to the general public to point out off royal splendors, making it the French capital’s first museum, predating the Louvre by greater than a decade. After the French Revolution, it grew to become the official headquarters of the French Navy for 266 years. And this previous summer time it emerged from intensive renovations as a monument to the French artwork of dwelling. Features embody a richly embellished suite of Nineteenth-century reception rooms and a loggia overlooking the plaza’s Luxor Obelisk and, inside the principle courtyard, the Café Lapérouse and Mimosa, a restaurant run by the Michelin-starred chef Jean-François Piège.

Now the Hôtel de la Marine is as soon as once more a showcase for princely treasures.

“Given my family’s affection for France and its cultural heritage, presenting the Al Thani Collection in the heart of Paris has a special meaning for me,” Sheikh Hamad bin Abdullah Al Thani wrote in an e-mail. A member of Qatar’s ruling household, Sheikh Hamad, 40, is a first cousin of the emir of Qatar and a distant cousin of Sheikh Saud bin Mohammed Al Thani, one other celebrated collector, who died in 2014.

The 120 works in the brand new exhibition, known as “Treasures of the Al Thani Collection,” span greater than 5,000 years, from the simplicity of a gold pendant — recognized as one of the earliest recognized examples of goldsmithing, courting at the least to three,500 B.C. and presumably earlier — to a giant and ornate Mughal ornamental chicken in gold, lacquer, rubies and emeralds.

In addition to jewellery in valuable metals, gem stones and enamel work from the Mughal dynasty, uncommon items on show embody the Mahin Banu “Grape” dish, a porcelain platter of royal provenance from China’s Ming period (1368 to 1644); a bear-shaped gilded bronze carpet weight courting to China’s Han dynasty (202 B.C. to A.D. 220); ornate sabers; Byzantine cash; textiles; and illuminated manuscripts of the Quran.

The exhibition’s poster options a bust of Hadrian with a carved chalcedony head courting from the Roman emperor’s reign (117 to 138). Its beard was added through the thirteenth century period of Frederick II of the Holy Roman Empire, and a vermeil and enamel mantle was embellished in Venice through the Renaissance.

A collector for the reason that age of 18, Sheikh Hamad first launched his assemblage of greater than 6,000 objects with exhibitions that targeted closely on jeweled items. “Treasures from India,” which opened in 2014 on the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, was adopted by “Bejewelled Treasures” on the Victoria and Albert Museum in London and the “Joyaux” exhibition, sponsored by Cartier, on the Grand Palais in Paris in 2017.

Yet in 2018, when the nonprofit Al Thani Collection Foundation signed an settlement with the Centre des Monuments Nationaux of France to occupy an upstairs gallery in the Hôtel de la Marine, its ambition was to point out that the scope of the gathering surpasses the jewels for which it has change into well-known. (Only 11 objects in the brand new exhibition have been half of the sooner reveals.)

“This exhibition reflects my interests in works of art made across civilizations, irrespective of geography or period, material or technique,” Sheikh Hamad wrote in his latest e-mail. “Above all, I appreciate human creativity and refinement more than any other attribute.”

Tickets to go to the Hôtel de la Marine are bought in an internal courtyard with a jewel-inspired glass roof designed by the British architect Hugh Dutton. The entry worth (13 or 17 euros) grants entry to the Al Thani exhibition in addition to the historic salons; reservations are advisable.

Philippe Belaval, the president of the Centre des Monuments Nationaux, which oversees nearly 100 state-owned monuments similar to Notre Dame Cathedral and Mont-St.-Michel, stated making the personal assortment accessible to the general public would give the French cultural panorama an added sense of openness.

“While the Al Thani collection fits with the image of a gallery of treasures, our main preoccupation was to show its richness and diversity, with a decorative element that differs from what you see in the rest of the building,” Mr. Belaval stated. “Seeing rare things you couldn’t see anywhere else in the world is something that justifies a visit all on its own.”

Paris is a prime location for the long-term exhibition. One of probably the most visited cities in the world, it attracted a document 38 million vacationers in 2019 — and 17.5 million in 2020, regardless of worldwide journey restrictions and lockdowns.

While the phrases of the partnership between the inspiration and the monuments administration stay confidential, an official assertion talked about an “extremely generous gift” — reported in the French newspaper Le Monde as €20 million ($23 million) — made to the state in return for a 20-year concession on the Hôtel de la Marine. The basis additionally paid to renovate its exhibition area, an quantity that has not been disclosed, however French media reported it as a multimillion-euro expense. (Mr. Belaval described the rooms, as soon as used for storing tapestries, as “completely bare” earlier than work started.)

Sheikh Hamad employed Tsuyoshi Tane of Atelier Tsuyoshi Tane Architects, based mostly in Paris, to reconfigure the area into what the sheikh’s e-mail described as a “21st century museum.”

Mr. Tane’s designs, he wrote, “have an avant-garde modesty and minimalism that don’t distract from the pieces exhibited, while also giving an abstract inspiration of the history of the place.”

The result’s as hanging as some of the objects displayed. Just inside the doorway, a choice of eight masterpieces that embody depictions of deities or animals — chosen to signify the sheikh’s style — are framed by 1000’s of gilded brass components that, strung on practically invisible wires, appear like falling snowflakes. Mr. Tane stated the impact was impressed by the gilded prospers in 18th-century French décor, however abstracted to create a bridge to works in the gathering.

Similarly, the flooring recreates the formal wooden parquet discovered at Versailles, however was made of panels of darkish stone.

“In a way, each element shows that we are looking at the past in an almost archaeological way, to take what was there, what is here and trying to push it into the future seamlessly,” Mr. Tane stated.

“There is no one way to see the world,” he added. “I think that a 21st-century museum should let you discover your own journey, not limit how you discover things.”

In an adjoining room, heads from totally different civilizations and durations — a Mesopotamian king, a man from Egypt’s Ptolemaic interval, an Amarna princess — are protected in capsules made by the Italian firm Goppion, which in 2019 up to date its show case for the Mona Lisa.

Having a house on the Hôtel de la Marine will make it doable to alter shows and increase programming, stated Amin Jaffer, senior curator of the Al Thani Collection.

And whereas elements of the gathering will proceed to journey the world — for instance, to the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia, and the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna in fall 2022 — Dr. Jaffer stated he and his crew could be exploring prospects with different establishments, such because the Calouste Gulbenkian Museum in Lisbon.

“Sheikh Al Thani has said from the beginning that there’s no point in reproducing a museum experience that’s already been done,” Dr. Jaffer stated. “He has a definite vision, a sure taste and a love of certain art forms, but he also has universal interests.

“I’ve never heard him say he wasn’t interested in something.”