A delicate yet flawless link between two European institutions is being bound by the arrival of the Tour de France in Yorkshire.
More than 100 pieces of invaluable and fragile Sevres porcelian, produced in the town of the same name which is passed annually by Le Tour, are being displayed as a collection for the first time at Harewood House, near Leeds.
The rare objects made by the French royal porcelain factory survived the uproar of the French Revolution and were brought to England by collector Edward Viscount Lascelles, son of the first earl of Harewood, in around 1802.
With Le Tour rolling from the doorstep of the Yorkshire stately home during the July 5 stage one from Leeds to Harrogate, the Sevres’ unlikely journey to God’s Own County is being told for the first time.
BAFTA-winning actress Kristin Scott Thomas opened the ‘In Pursuit of the Exquisite’ exhibition with Lord Harewood David Lascelles and esteemed curator Dame Rosalind Savill at Harewood yesterday.
France-based Scott Thomas said: “It’s very exciting, I didn’t even know the Tour started in different countries before this year. It’s fun to be able to come to see some Sevres, it’s strange to see something like that outside of France.”
In 1740 the French royal porcelain factory of Sevres was founded and went on to produce some of the highest quality wares to grace palaces such as Versailles near Paris.
After decades of expense, the French Revolution saw the monarch overthrown in 1792 and King Louis XVI and Queen Marie Antoinette executed a year later, sparking a firesale of valuable royal mementoes.
Lord Harewood said: “Sevres has a strong French connection with Harewood and the story behind it is fantastic.”
Viscount Lascelles built one of the great collections during a lull in Anglo-French tension. This years marks the 200th anniversary of his death.
Dame Rosalind added: “They have all had extraordinary histories and have come back home in a way.”
The Yorkshire Festival 2014 exhibition runs to November 2. Visit festival.yorkshire.com.
OLD MEETS THE NEW
‘In Pursuit of the Exquisite’ displays and explains how some of Europe’s most finely crafted porcelain ended up in Yorkshire hands.
The artists of the present have been given the chance to react to some of Harewood House’s most treasured possessions.
Contemporary artists Dan Scott, Livia Marin and Michelle Taylor have created new works inspired by the Sevres pieces. Scott’s ‘Yesterday’ exhibit has seen the creation of a video that explores a clock at Harewood as a witness to history. It was once owned by Queen Marie Antoinette.