Known as “the Tiger” or represented as the Father of Victory, Georges Clemenceau remains in History and national memory one of the most important political figure of his time. Not only was he a statesman and a war leader, Clemenceau cherished a genuine passion for Asia, its arts, civilizations and religions.
Dedicated to a lesser known aspect of this illustrious man, a great Asian art collector, this exhibition held at the Guimet Museum will feature his abundant collection. This exhibition received the “label centenaire” of the Centenary Mission of the First World War, and takes part in the official commemorative state programme.
Focusing on his discovery of India and of Buddhism, but also on Orientalism and the new interest in Asia during the 19th century, this exhibition will be designed upon the collection of the Guimet museum as well as Clemenceau’s own. Amongst the 800 artefacts displayed will be Clemenceau’s private collection, largely dispersed in 1894 when, bled dry by the Panama scandal, he had to auction most of it. Prints, paintings, Kôgô (Japanese incense boxes), masks, ceramics but also photographs will testify to this man’s passion for arts from the Extreme-Orient.
Art critic and collector, writer and patron, Clemenceau was fundamentally an aesthete. Similarly, his interest in Asian art was not confined to its decorative features. Far from simply accumulating objects in a purely aesthetic purpose, Clemenceau, who, as a politician, had access to «diplomatic» sources to enrich his collections, would try and understand their deeper meaning and penetrate the thought processes that had originated them.
Clemenceau, the Tiger and Asia will reveal how this man, both an orientalist and a promoter of dialogues between cultures, contributed to the circulation of Asian art and culture towards the French public.Through a scenography evoking “the Tiger’s” unique expedition in Asia in 1920, this exhibition will offer visitors a journey of a truly original genre. Clemenceau’s interest for the study of religions, oriental philosophies and philosophical concepts surrounding the tea ceremony will be highlighted by the numerous literary volumes and artefacts which were once in his possession.