China is on its way to becoming Cartier’s foremost partner in the world. Such an exceptional link has grown fromthe fascinating energy that drives this vast country, and the interest that Cartier has always shown towards it. Whatbegan as historic and stylistic ties became a source of trade and friendship, as well as a cultural and artistic bond. This exhibition at the Palace Museum brings us fulfilment on more than one account. It is the culmination of thespecial relationship between Cartier and its trusted partners in Beijing. It is the recognition by one of the planet’smost prestigious museums that Cartier creations constitute a heritage of immense historical value. It is also a great personal pleasure, as I have a particular fascination for China’s civilisation and its people. 1 comehere regularly, perhaps four times a year, always in search of new opportunities and encounters, travelling to townsin the country’s furthest reaches and even attempting to unravel the mysteries of the Chinese language. Just as these mutual ties and influences are not new, so they grow stronger. As early as 1888, there are records in Cartier’s archives oflacquerwork objects, made for a prestigious patron,Vicomtesse de Bonnemain. Parisian antique dealers, including C.T. Loo on Rue de Courcelles, supplied Cartierwith laques burgaut6s. Chinese images of animals, colours and symbolic icons have been introduced by Cartier toits jewellery designs. In the 192os, powder compacts, vanity cases and even small clocks were incrusted with thisshimmering inlay; with its evocations of faraway lands. Coral and jade made daring colour combinations. Mythicalcreatures – chimerae, dragons, Fo dogs and phoenixes – came to life on jewellery and mystery clocks. Louis Cartierhimself was an informed collector of these works. Other motifs, some symbolic – stylised ideograms, Yin andYang – and others religious pagoda roofs and divinities transformed objects into precious talismans. Chineseaesthetics have held a fascination for Cartier that continues today. The dragon, alongside the panther, remains oneof Cartier’s most revered animals.