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Desert Jewels: North African Jewelry and Photography from the Xavier Guerrand-Hermes Collection

Start Date 04 September 2010
End Date 05 December 2010
Venue Philadelphia Museum of Art
Location Philadelphia, USA
Curator Dilys Blum

An exhibition of spectacular jewelry and historic photographs from Algeria, Libya, Morocco, Egypt, and Tunisia, Desert Jewels presents never-before-exhibited pieces of stunning North African jewelry and late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century photographs by some of the period’s most prominent photographers. 

Assembled over three decades by Xavier Guerrand-Hermès, Desert Jewels illuminates the diversity and beauty of traditional North African jewelry design. Ornate necklaces, bracelets, rings, and earrings show the inventive compositions and dazzling creations of North African jewelry designers and silver workers. Crafted from combinations of silver, coral, amber, coins, and semiprecious stones, the exquisite collection includes wedding necklaces, hair ornaments, bracelets, earrings, and fibulae used to keep veils in place. The jewelry shows both the common threads that run through North African societies and local variations in materials and motifs. 

North African jewelry came to the attention of Western collectors in the nineteenth century, when North Africa’s historic monuments and archaeological sites were being explored, visited, and, in some cases, pillaged. The most important photographers of the day—including the Scotsman George Washington Wilson, the Neurdein brothers from France, and the Turkish photographer Pascal Sebah—visited the region and photographed landscapes, architecture, markets, and people adorned in their jewels. 


Desert Jewels: North African Jewelry and Photography from the Xavier Guerrand-Hermès Collection is organized by the Museum for African Art, New York 


This exhibition is supported, in part, by the Robert Lehman Foundation. 

Curator: Dilys Blum, The Jack M. and Annette Y. Friedland Senior Curator of Costume and Textiles 

Location: Joan Spain Gallery, Perelman Building