Introducing the unique Metiers d'Art - Chagall & l'Opera de Paris

Métiers d’Art – Chagall & l’Opéra de Paris 

On Saturday November 20 in celebration of the AROP’s (Association pour le Rayonement de l’Opera de Paris- loosely translated as the Friends of The Paris Opera) 30th anniversary Vacheron Constantin presented during the gala dinner a unique Metiers d’Art – Chagall et l’Opera de Paris in yellow gold.

This unique piece will not be sold but shall remain within the Vacheron Constantin collection! 


Metiers d'Art Chagall Opera de Paris


Metiers d'Art Chagall Opera de Paris


Chagall and the Paris Opera 
Inaugurated in 1875, the Paris Opera also called Palais Garnier (in tribute to its architect Charles Garner) was a symbol of opulence, beauty and grandeur to a degree that surpassed most monuments of that time. The Opéra de Paris was realized under the rule of Napoleon III as part of the reconstruction that Paris underwent during the Second French Empire. 

Opera de Paris

Introducing the unique Metiers d'Art - Chagall & l'Opera de Paris

Introducing the unique Metiers d'Art - Chagall & l'Opera de Paris


In 1963, after providing nearly 100 years of entertainment, it was decided that the Paris Opéra was in need of a makeover. France’s minister of Culture, André Malraux, was charged with finding and commissioning an artist worthy of such an undertaking: enter Marc Chagall. The offer was made one evening after the representation of Daphnis and Chloé whose stage-setting was done by Chagall. 

Introducing the unique Metiers d'Art - Chagall & l'Opera de Paris


This choice immediately sparked contraversy among many Parisians, worried about the idea that a non-French artist (Chagall was Russian born) was being charged with the decoration of a national French monument. Chagall, true to his style, responded to critical articles published about him saying :

« They really had it in for me. It is amazing the way the French resent foreigners. You live here most of your life, you become a naturalized French citizen, work for nothing decorating their cathedrals, and still they despise you. You are not one of them. »

Chagall, un-deterred in his determination to do complete his work and prove his critics wrong, began his work in 1964 at the tender age of 77. After only one year, Chagall had completed a work of art that beautifully filled the 220 square meter ceiling. The canvas that had been so debated and fiercely criticized was unveiled to the public on September 23, 1964, silencing doubters and validating Chagall’s efforts. In an interview, Chagall explained his work to an enthralled audience :

Up there in my painting I wanted to reflect, like a mirror in a bouquet, the dreams and creations of the singers and musicians, to recall the movement of the colourfully attired audience below, and to honour the great opera and ballet composers... Now I offer this work as a gift of gratitude to France and her École de Paris, without which there would be no colour and no freedom.”

Chagall used this platform to pay tribute to some of the greatest composers of all time. He decided that the best way to go about transforming the massive ceiling into a tribute that would do justice to these legendary artists would be to divide the outer circle of the ceiling into five individual sections, each one painted a different color.

The Blue Section majestically celebrates Mozart and Mussorgsky with a rendering of The Enchanged Flute. In the Green Section, Chagall honors Wagner and Berlioz with beautiful visuals of both Tristan and Isolde and Romeo and Juliettey. Continuing around the circle, the White Section is dedicated to Rameau and Debussy and presents Chagall’s depiction of Pelleas and Melisande. The Red Section pays tribute to Stravinsky and Ravel with the timeless masterpiece Daphne and Chloe. Last, but certainly not least, is the Yellow Section dedicated to Tchaikovsky and Adam featuring Swan Lake and Giselle.

Chagall’s work showcases the artist’s deep and passionate love for theater as well as painting. The majestic images are united magnificently with a beautiful array of luminous colors that effortlessly contrast the theater’s predominantly gold and red theme. « I adore the theater and I am a painter. I think the two are made for a marriage of love. I will give all my soul to prove this once more. »


The delicate enamel dial is a work of art in its own right the first drawings
Introducing the unique Metiers d'Art - Chagall & l'Opera de Paris

Introducing the unique Metiers d'Art - Chagall & l'Opera de Paris


It started as a crazy project with a final result which is close to perfection ! Imagine having to reproduce a 200 square meter masterpiece on a 31mm dial and which took over 3 and a half months to create!!!

Anita Porchet the famous Swiss master enameller (amongst others she had done the dials of the Metiers d’Arts models for the brand’s 250th anniversary) was charged with the immense task of reproducing Chagall’s masterpiece. 


Introducing the unique Metiers d'Art - Chagall & l'Opera de Paris


Introducing the unique Metiers d'Art - Chagall & l'Opera de Paris

This dial is based on the grand feu Geneva enamel technique. The grand feu enamels used in the Geneva technique reach their point of fusion at an extremely high temperature, between 800°C and 900°C, resulting in exceptional purity and longevity.

The Geneva technique of miniature enamelling with a protective flux coating is undoubtedly that which requires the greatest expertise from the master enameller. On a dial measuring 1 mm thick and 31.50 mm in diameter, a white base enamel - that is extremely hard because of its high fusion point - is applied on the dial. This dial undergoes a first firing at a temperature of around 900°C in order to be able to withstand the many subsequent firings in the furnace.

On this white enamel base serving as a “background canvas”, the artist starts by tracing the outlines of the various motifs with a brush consisting of two or three marten’s hairs. Using a strong binocular magnifying instrument, she recreated the atmosphere and the emotional vibrations of the work to be reproduced in miniature. This involved a few touches of colour on the chosen shade, placed in successive points in an extremely precise order, moving throughout the entire process from the softer shades to the purer, brighter ones. The extremely fine powders and pigments used for miniature enamel paintings are blended with oils such as lily flower oil, to make them easier to apply. 

Metiers d'Art Chagall Opera de Paris


Metiers d'Art Chagall Opera de Paris

Metiers d'Art Chagall Opera de Paris

After around twenty firings in the oven at temperatures of between 800 and 850 degrees Celsius, the work begins to take on its final appearance. During these various stages, the colours are vitrified by the heat and progressively change, become more intense and retract. The enameller’s experience plays an essential and determining role. The furnace firing times must be carefully calculated according to the type and the quantity of matter applied, and their exact duration depends on the artists “gut feeling”, in fact there is no specific rule on this matter as the firing times can change according to outside humidity and heat!. The path leading to the final touch is strewn with all manner of pitfalls, and the fragile and sometimes refractory enamel is liable to “explode” each time it is removed from the furnace. The cooling stages thus require a great deal of patience to avoid sudden changes of temperature. A single wrong move can cause irreversible damage and force the artisan to begin all over again.

When the miniature enamelled painting has been completed and fired for the last time, it is generally coated with two or three layers of a finishing flux consisting of a transparent enamel serving to protect the work from the potential effects of ageing. Following the final firing of this flux (at 800°C), a fine polish with an abrasive stone is performed, followed by the final polishing operation after the last vitrification in order to achieve the full radiance and pictorial splendour of the work. 


Metiers d'Art Chagall Opera de Paris


Metiers d'Art Chagall Opera de Paris

Metiers d'Art Chagall Opera de Paris

Metiers d'Art Chagall Opera de Paris

Metiers d'Art Chagall Opera de Paris

Metiers d'Art Chagall Opera de Paris

Metiers d'Art Chagall Opera de Paris

Metiers d'Art Chagall Opera de Paris

Metiers d'Art Chagall Opera de Paris

Introducing the unique Metiers d'Art - Chagall & l'Opera de Paris


But that’s not it!

The enamel dial once ready is then engraved on its periphery with 12 Nymph heads (the same ones who surround Chagall’s paining at the Paris Opera) each bearing a different expression. These minature engravings which measure 2 mm (!!) too Vacheron Constantin’s master engraver, Jeanne Ulrich, 3 full days to finalise. She came out of this “completely exhausted but happy” as she puts it

Metiers d'Art Chagall Opera de Paris


Metiers d'Art Chagall Opera de Paris

Metiers d'Art Chagall Opera de Paris

Metiers d'Art Chagall Opera de Paris

Metiers d'Art Chagall Opera de Paris

Metiers d'Art Chagall Opera de Paris

Métiers d’Art – Chagall & l’Opéra de Paris “Tribute to Famous Composers”
Even though this timepiece will remain unique, Vacheron Constantin will soon launch a collection of 14 one-of-a-kind timepieces entitled “Tribute to Famous Composers” and reproducing one of the composers appearing in Chagall’s monumental work using the same grand feu enamel painting.

The yellow gold watch case is 40mm in diameter and houses the automatic cal 2460.
11/22/2010 - 14:35
SJX
11/22/2010 - 14:52
11/22/2010 - 17:38
11/22/2010 - 17:50
11/23/2010 - 10:41
11/23/2010 - 05:33
11/28/2010 - 23:23
My personal take on this watch
11/22/2010 - 12:54

I have to admot that the first time I heard about this project I wasn't convinced, I was afraid that it would be too baroque, fear that was confirmed whan i sayw the very first drawings. However about 2 weeks ago I saw the dial and WOW gasp gasp gasp...it was done with such subtlety, grace and finesse that I was awestruck. The dial was not a miniature painting of a masterpiece but a masterpiece in its own right. Just imagining the concentration and dexterity needed to make the dial makes my brain go numb. The dial put aside I really like the fact that the watch will never be sold and remain in the VC collection and available for all to admire.

Re: My personal take on this watch
11/23/2010 - 10:18
Thank you for sharing Alex. We had a very pleasant chat we Jeanne in London, and she showed us one of the miniature engraving she had been working on. The photos present the work magnificiently but where can we see this beauty? Is it in Switzerland, or will it travel the world? Shall we get a chance to admire it in Paris or London?
I hope to bring it along with me at our The Hour Lounge events :-)
11/23/2010 - 19:05
e
I'd really like to see this in person. Looks like a million bucks
11/23/2010 - 22:37
Amazing!
11/22/2010 - 14:35
First the Opera is maybe the most beautiful monument of Paris. (for me) His architecture is a Masterpiece, the optic effects inside and outside are just unique. As you say the main colors are red (deep red) and gold, in a very emphatic second empire style. When you enter the main room with all the seats, you immediatly look at the Chagall's paint above you, it is a shock! The Chagalls paint is pure lightness, transparent blue and yellow, it could (and should) be completely out of the subject but in fact it fits, how I do not know but it gives a lot of personnality and charm to Opera de Paris. This paint is heaven, charming in a way you cannot imagine if you do not see it, and in fact also impressive by its size. So the Opera de Paris is a very Baroque and impressive building with this amazing light painting "in the middle". And when I see this watch... wow, I see the same. A Baroque Case, with Baroque scultpture around the dial... and a colourful, light and amazing dial. The work for sculptures and enameling is just amazing, congrats to VC and Miss Porchet ! The métiers d'Art is one of the strong quality of Vacheron, it is quite unique, and knows how to touch people. This one strikes me directly in the heart, amazing piece of art. Bravo Vacheron ! Francois
That is beautiful
11/22/2010 - 14:52
though the hands seem a bit mismatched in my opinion. But stunning work nevertheless. - SJX
A true work of art in and of itself!
11/22/2010 - 16:48
Jeanne, and VC, should be very proud of this miniature masterpiece! I think its pretty cool that VC would make a one-off watch with the intent of showing off some of its capabilities, without looking to sell it.  (Although I could see it generating a huge amount in the future at an auction if VC ever wanted to part with it at some point in time). Best Regards, Dan
Pure art ...
11/22/2010 - 17:38
or should I say magic, comes to my mind. I would never spend my money on it, but I can appreciate it as a great piece of art. Applause for the artist who created the dial To keep it for the VC collection is just perfect, as it shows (once more) the exceptional skills of VC. Only the hands would not have been my first choice.
Phenomenal artistry...
11/22/2010 - 17:50
This piece is absolutely gorgeous! Marc Chagall was obviously an incredible artist and Anita Porchet is just as much, perhaps more. She must have nerves of steel that very few people possess. This Paris Opera piece is a fusion of the highest degree of artistic and mechanical prowess.  Congrats to Anita Porchet and VC on the creation of a masterpiece! Also, thank you for a great report Alex! Best, Mike
Thanks Alex, you've made my day
11/22/2010 - 18:02
It is a truly awesome piece - congrats to the whole VC team, especially Anita and Jeanne! The hour markers are by far (for me) to most impressive part of this watch - it could have been made with a very simple guilloche dial, and with those in place it still would have been an awesome piece... It seems that every watch that VC produces in that case turns out to be a winner... Cheers,  Francois
Re: Introducing the unique Metiers d'Art - Chagall & l'Opera de Paris
11/22/2010 - 18:32
Stunningly beautiful watch, but a shame it will never be worn.  Perhaps they should lend it out from time to time to a lucky Hour Lounger for a trip to the Palais Garnier . . .
I like your idea :-) (nt)
11/22/2010 - 18:42
e
Re: Introducing the unique Metiers d'Art - Chagall & l'Opera de Paris
11/22/2010 - 18:52
Alex, What an amazing piece! The idea itself is brilliant. And the execution, no less amazing. What a masterpiece! Hopefully we'll get to see it in January. By the way, could you list the other composers that adorn the facade of the Opera Garnier. I have seen it but can only recall a few...I believe Mozart, Beethoven, Lully and Rossini were there. but its been a while. Congratulations to Vacheron on this fascinating and wonderful watch. Aren't the case and lugs similar to the Mercator watches? Best wishes, Joseph
the case is similar to the Mercator and the
11/22/2010 - 19:25
Tribute to the Great Explorers but with a officer back. This case will be used for the bespoke or special Metiers d'Art models and first used for the Dragons I'm not sure the facade of the Opera features composers but rather the four major arts performed there: Musique, Lyrical poetry, lyrical drama and  Dance 
Re: the case is similar to the Mercator and the
11/22/2010 - 21:42
Hi Alex, Yes it does feature composers on the facade, at least their busts. I think they are all Opera composers. As I recall Bizet is up there too. Regards, Joseph
Ah yes Alex I remember these...
11/23/2010 - 03:57
No wonder I don't remember all since this type of lovely case is only used for the ones I can't afford   Thanks Sir.
literally. "the art of watchmaking"! this is art............
11/22/2010 - 19:21
i am finally getting it, VC is a fusion of art and watchmaking, that is why i am so magnetised by this brand. friends are asking why i am so mesmerised by this brand compared to PP, now i have the answer for them. from mercator, masks and maki-e, it's all about this romanticism about this brand with a long heritage. this a "WOW!" , appreciate it !!! VC doesn't ceases to impress. What is a watch with mechanical powess but without a soul, the  whole point of us collecting as a hobby is about this, isn't it ?  our cell phones probably tell better time and need much less maintenance.
So much beauty in such a little space!
11/22/2010 - 21:23

Superlatives aside, this exercise must have involved more than a little time, resources and risk for which the manufacture should be commended.  For me, the Métiers d’Art line is inspiring beyond words .

How to go straight into the heart of Alex !
11/23/2010 - 02:25
When I saw this dial, I nearly got the feeling of who came up with the idea! It's written Alex all over it! I love the works of Anita Porchet, she's magic! To be honest I think the indexes are to heavy and dominant, compared with her subtle hand, especially when the art is so clean. Of course the watch is masterpiece, but in my taste it becomes just a little bit to much. From Anita Porchet's enamel it never is to much, just perfect harmony. Doc
That is what is Opera
11/23/2010 - 10:41
A "sweet and fat" 2nd Empire style with this incredible light modern painting in the middle. You can dislike the hour markers but imho the mix of dial and hour markers is a perfect hommage to what is Palais Garnier. my 2 cents Francois
An incredible work of Art and something that must not only be
11/23/2010 - 02:54
admired, but respected! Really something special. Hope to see it in person someday. Many thanks, Tim
Re: Introducing the unique Metiers d'Art - Chagall & l'Opera de Paris
11/23/2010 - 03:13
WOW...BEAUTIFUL
This is a very meticulous piece of horological art.
11/23/2010 - 03:55
The indices are very well made I think. However, not my cup of tea. I do love the case and the caseback...if I recall, this is the case of Sputnik right Alex? Does VC use this case for any other model besides these 2? I gotta look at the whole collection again. But this a very well done effort!
Hi Rei, see my reply to JB above :-) (nt)e
11/23/2010 - 10:11
e
Gorgeous
11/23/2010 - 05:33
This piece is jaw-droppingly beautiful. It really exhibits the high repository of talent at VC. With these art pieces, VC stands out with a specific talent set and point of view that distinguish them from the other brands. The enameling is so mesmerizing, even in pictures. I imagine you wouldn't be able to tear the piece from my hands in person as I gazed continuously at the dial to decipher ever more detail, which is obviously there! I imagine you would over the years be able to see more and more delights that at first your eye didn't catch. I adore the engraved nymph heads standing for the hour markers. I agree that the hands somehow don't fit the tone and overall look of the piece. I don't like to criticize without offering constructive criticism; however, in this case I don't quite yet have a better alternative. May I plead a version of the Potter Stewart explanation? As to pornography, he said, I can't define it, but I know it when I see it. In an odd twist, I feel this way about the hands. I'll know them when I see them. Thanks for sharing such a magnificent piece, the people responsible for its creation and the process involved to bring it to fruition. Bravo! m
Re: Introducing the unique Metiers d'Art - Chagall & l'Opera de Paris
11/23/2010 - 09:02
Only one word : OUTSTANDING !
Re: Introducing the unique Metiers d'Art - Chagall & l'Opera de Paris
11/23/2010 - 09:34
l'art de faire de l'art
Re: Introducing the unique Metiers d'Art - Chagall & l'Opera de Paris
11/23/2010 - 09:36
l'art de faire de l'art
Re: Introducing the unique Metiers d'Art - Chagall & l'Opera de Paris
11/24/2010 - 06:32
Elegant and rich !   thank you alex        pol
Having seen the original ceiling...
11/24/2010 - 12:38
...many times, I have to say that this dial is nothing short of amazing! My congratulations to Vacheron and to Anita Porchet!
The combination of Haute Horlogerie and art at it's finest
11/26/2010 - 12:38
Congratulations to VC for producing such an amazing watch! I read the pressrelease where they referred to the enameller as "he" which is a shame because Anita Porchet is a treasure to VC and should be recognized as such! Regards Martin
Fantastic!
11/28/2010 - 23:23
This has to be one of the most incdredible watches I have seen. I would love to own this watch but besides being well beyond my means it belongs to the entire world to enjoy. I am an enthusiastic Chagall admirer and this watch dial carries the essence of Chagall's work. Perhaps some elements of the watch are less than perfection to some, but the dial is what this watch is all about. I suspect the bespoke department will be over run with requests for horologic representations of great works of art! Congratulations to those at Vacheron for an exceptionally well done job. Michael Segal