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Le Musée de la Nacre et de la Tabletterie reste fermé jusqu'à nouvel ordre



I scale
I scale
14.04.2011 - 10.10.2011
Musée de la Nacre et de la Tabletterie - Méru


Commissionership : Lionel Mignot

This exhibition of the mother of pearl museum dedicated to tortoiseshell, the first one taking place since the one in the Paris town hall in 1997, explores a lively, mysterious and luxurious material.
It allows to discover the range of applications of this natural material coming from sea tortoises. As the centuries went by, tablet and tortoiseshell-crafters have made this material available in all its forms and for any use by producing decorative or functional objects : marquetry, horn-rimmed glasses, fineries, brushes, religious items, travelling suitcases, cigarette holders, snuffboxes, paper knives, jewelleries…
The visitor’s tour is composed of 10 steps that reconstitute all the facets of this surprising material: its origin, tortoiseshell and men, the tortoiseshell’s work, its colours, Les Pecquet : the history of a family of tablet and tortoiseshell-crafters, the workshop of Mr. Pecquet in 1950, the Bonnet’s House, the tortoiseshell glasses’ fabrication, tortoiseshell fans and outstanding objects.
Important objects loans granted by Mr. Bonnet, last master of art in tortoiseshell-working still practicing this activity, complete the mother of pearl’s collections mainly stemming from Mrs Pecquet’s gift in 2007.
This exhibition is aiming to show the public the amazing possibilities of use of this material and to present a rare and prestigious know-how.

The exhibition’s tour
The tour of this exhibition devoted to tortoiseshell presents, for the first time, collections of the mother of pearl museum and exceptional objects lent by the House Bonnet. In this exhibition, we discover in 10 steps, tortoiseshell under all its forms but also the know-how of the tablet-tortoiseshell-makers acquired for centuries. 

1. Where does tortoiseshell come from ?
Did you know that tortoiseshell constitutes the carapace of sea-turtles ? Would you like to discover of which turtles exactly ? Come find out what “busques” or “squares” are and which reason leads us to keep a preference for “onglons”. 

2. Tortoiseshell and men : a secular history
During The Antiquity, furniture noticed by Virgil or Ovide was already inlaid with tortoiseshell but those who introduced in Europe the use of tortoiseshell were Portuguese sailors. Therefore, since the 16th century, most of the luxurious objects are decorated with tortoiseshell, offering prestige to whom owns them.

3. The tortoiseshell’s work
The elaboration of tortoiseshell is a very specific craft requiring a precise glance of the material. The tablet-tortoiseshell-maker uses tools close to those employed in joinery but tortoiseshell offers an additional possibility: auto-grafting.

4. Tortoiseshell’s colours
From the extra-blond colour, the rarest colour dedicated to the most luxurious objects, including the extra half-blond, the jaspered-blond, the pinkish melted, the bright or dark jaspered, clear or dark cherish to black, tortoiseshell offers a surprising diversity of shades. This diversity allows the creation of a multitude of items for the everyday life, either devoted to practical or ornamental uses.

5. A family of “tablet-tortoiseshell-makers” ‘s History : the Pecquet Family
Or how a family of tablet-makers using mother of pearl and settled not far from Méru, begins little by little to be interested in tortoiseshell.

6. The workshop of Mr. Pecquet in the 1950s
Thanks to a series of original photographs, visitors will discover the workshop of Mr Pecquet to the fifties. They will also see the different steps of the fabrication of a tortoiseshell item such as the production of a chip, the cutting up or the shaping of a piece of tortoiseshell.

7. The Bonnet House
Spectacle manufacturers from fathers to sons for four generations, the Bonnet take care over their tortoiseshell work and distinguish themselves nowadays as the last successors of this art.

8. The making of tortoiseshell spectacles
The fabrication’s process of the tortoiseshell glasses is based on a very precise know-how. From the measures of the face to the polishing of the frames, each step is cleverly measured out and makes thus each model unique.

9. Tortoiseshell fans
The most emblematic objects of Tablet-making and luxurious objects by excellence are fans, more precisely their settings made of tortoiseshell. Created by the best crafters, exported in the whole world, fans settings have insured the repute of the Tablet-making in Le Pays de Thelle in the 19th century. 

10. Remarkable Objects
Some original instances and rare items made of tortoiseshell.