Tag: 17th century

Half a decade ago Michel Honoré was a broken man as he watched Notre Dame engulfed in flames, stricken by what seemed the certain loss of “this historic French religious symbol”.

“The sight of the cathedral on fire will remain as traumatic as seeing the towers collapsing on 9/11,” Mr Honoré told The National.

Before long, the insurance assessor specialising in fine art received a call. Could he go to the smouldering church the following day?

The summons was not wholly unexpected – Mr Honoré had already compiled a list of experts, restorers and craftspeople in case he needed to assemble a team.

In fact, safety concerns meant it was several more agonising days before he could enter the cathedral to begin assessing the damage – the initial step in the five-year journey towards Notre Dame’s reopening this year.

What he found amid the ruins forms the basis of the first stage in showing the restoration to the public over much of the rest of 2024.

A set of masterpieces saved from Notre Dame, dating back to a 17th-century tradition of honouring the Virgin Mary (also known as the Queen of May) with a painting every May, will go on display in Paris this week.

The exhibition comes just in time for the Olympic Games spotlight on the city and ahead of the long-awaited reopening of the cathedral doors in December.

It has given Mr Honoré a moment to reflect on the gratification he takes from his role in restoring the church from the wreckage of April 2019.

Notre Dame’s restored artworks – in pictures

“I will never forget the sight: three holes piercing the heart of Notre Dame, a

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As attendees of the Met Gala stalked the stairs of the Metropolitan Museum of Art earlier this week, fashion gawkers around the world gathered around laptops and cellphone screens to marvel at the excess of jewels, creative costuming and perhaps most importantly, the trends. Last year it was all about sheer mesh and corsets; a few years back it was metallics and lace. To go by Monday night’s display, grapefruit-size rosettes are likely headed to a clothing rack near you.

We’re living in an era when fads are able to move through the global population with unprecedented swiftness, and sometimes it seems like we’re living in a time of unprecedented absurdity. But while the first condition can be blamed on our digital age, the second is only a mirage. Human fashion has always been delightfully strange and deeply ridiculous. When have people not wanted to stun and to charm? To own weird little tchotchkes and hoard shiny shells? A love of glitter and flair is embedded in the human heart.

Before we called ourselves consumers, we were just plain old sensualists, seeking to smell good, dress cute and show off. Much has changed, but the desire for pretty things? That stays exactly the same. Here are 10 bygone beauties that once captured hearts the world over.

Nautilus chalices

A gold cup made from a silver shell
A nautilus cup from 1602. Photograph: Paul Lachenauer/Courtesy the Metropolitan Museum of Art

During the baroque period (ie the 1600s) nautilus cups were briefly and wildly fashionable in shell-obsessed Europe. While I like to imagine noble tables set with fanciful chalices brimming with wine, it’s unlikely that these were used on a daily basis. More often, a shell goblet was given a place of honor in a curio cabinet – at the time, many scientifically minded Europeans believed that one

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