14 May 2018
With Elizabeth de Chambrun at Dublin’s Chester Beatty Library
Designer Elizabeth de Chambrun asked me to go with her to the Chester Beatty Library to explore one of her sources of inspiration: Mughal miniatures.
Elizabeth de Chambrun spends several months a year in Jaipur creating jewelry strongly influenced by Indian culture. She uses the same pure, very yellow, smooth gold employed by craftsmen for thousands of years, while her floral motifs and arabesques evoke the Mughal style of the 16thand 17thcenturies. In search of inspiration, the designer took a trip to the Chester Beatty Library.
Alfred Chester Beatty’s treasures
Close to Dublin Castle, the Chester Beatty Library is dedicated to the treasures of Alfred Chester Beatty, a mining magnate who in the early 20thcentury assembled one of the world’s most stunning collections of Islamic and Oriental art. At every display case, Elizabeth de Chambrun stopped to absorb the beauty of its contents: a book made of thin Chinese jade plaques, exquisite texts illuminated in gold, or manuscripts from Ethiopia, Armenia and Russia.
But she had really come for the delicate Mughal miniatures, with their portraits and everyday scenes, which can only be seen by appointment. With one 16thcentury marvel, the designer handed me a magnifying glass so that I could see all the detail in the princes’ jewelry. She waxed lyrical about beautiful necklaces made of single rows of pearls dotted with emeralds and rubies, archers’ rings hanging from belts, a sarpech(turban ornament) or diamond earrings prefiguring the ear cuff. One truly breathtaking aspect was women in jewelry made of minuscule real pearls and precious stones.
Thoroughly fired by all these venerable illustrations, Elizabeth de Chambrun was now poised to return to Jaipur and create a new collection…