At the annual APOM Awards ceremony, held on 29 October at the Museu de Marinha in Lisbon, The Golden Age of French Furniture. From the Workshop to the Palace won in the ‘Temporary Exhibition’ category. On display between 6 March and 28 September 2020 at the Calouste Gulbenkian Museum, this exhibition had one of the museum’s curators, Clara Serra, as curator, with Mariano Piçarra in charge of the museographic project, and it was held in partnership with the Ricardo do Espírito Santo Silva Foundation.
Drawing on some emblematic pieces from the Calouste Gulbenkian Museum collection, such as the Jean-Henri Riesener roll-top desk, the exhibition aimed to highlight French furniture from the 18th century, a period in which it attained an unprecedented degree of excellency. Generous loans from other institutions, in Portugal and abroad, such as the Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga in Lisbon and the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris, enhanced and strengthened the exhibition discourse, which sought to explore, in an educational and accessible way, the different production phases of these pieces: from the raw material, the wood, to the delicate and extravagant furniture made for royal palaces. By revealing this demanding and painstaking creation process, the exhibition also unveiled the secrets behind these works: the craftsmen and workshops that produced them, the materials of choice, and the techniques and tools that facilitated their design.
The exhibition was complemented by a 360º tour, which can still be viewed online and which allowed the public virtual access during the 2020 lockdown resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. The exhibition was also accompanied by a bilingual publication, on sale in the shops of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, which included texts by Clara Serra and Helen Jacobsen, curator of French 18th-century Decorative Arts at the Wallace Collection, London.