Fierce and Fragile at Hermès
The Parisian luxury house Hermès and the global wild cat conservation organization Panthera recently joined forces to pay homage to the extraordinary talent of the French artist and naturalist Robert Dallet (1926–2006). The resulting exhibition Fierce and Fragile: Big Cats in the Art of Robert Dallet celebrates the beauty of big cats and is part of a project to protect them from extinction. Launched at the Bruce Museum (Greenwich, USA), the exhibition has travelled through Milan, Munich, Hong Kong and Taiwan. Fierce and Fragile culminated at the Hermès flagship store in Mumbai and was on display from December 10, 2016 – January 12, 2017.
Students and members of Alliance Française de Bombay were invited to an exclusive walk-through of the exhibition in the presence of Christine Duvigneau (Director, Graphic Design Studio of Hermès, Paris) and Frédéric Dallet (son of the artist) on Jan 10, 2017. The exhibition featured a few of Dallet’s paintings, drawings and sketches illustrating the eight big cat species: tiger, lion, leopard, cheetah, cougar, jaguar, snow leopard and clouded leopard. Not only did Fierce and Fragile provide a visual framework for a powerful conservation message, it also touched on Dallet’s two-decade-long design collaboration with Hermès.
Born in Normandy, Dallet moved to Paris in 1952. His extraordinary ability to recreate animals in motion from memory earned him great acclaim among the major French publishing houses. In the 1970s, he began travelling around the globe to study big cats and other animals in their natural habitats. He began to contextualize the cats within their environments, depicting flora and fauna with the same exacting detail and thoroughness with which he portrayed the animals themselves. In 1988, after meeting Jean-Louis Dumas (then president of Hermès), he created his first scarf for the luxury house entitled Kenya. Over the course of his lifetime, Robert Dallet created twenty-five scarves for Hermès including the iconic Jungle Love in 2000 and Tendresse Féline and Les Tigreaux in 2012.
The exhibition Fierce and Fragile was born through a mutual admiration of the artist and a shared love of big cats by Pierre-Alexis Dumas (Hermès’ Artistic Director) and Thomas Kaplan (founder of Panthera). Together, they have established the Robert Dallet Initiative for Wild Cat Conservation for advancing Panthera’s work of conserving cats within their natural habitats. The initiative’s creation is in direct response to Robert Dallet’s deep desire to pay homage to the beauty of wild cats and to ensure that they are not lost to us forever. The works exhibited in the exhibition are being displayed for the first time in India. As the artist used to say, “I hope that these depictions will not be the only memories of a fascinating world lost to mankind’s recklessness.”
Rédaction, AF Magazine Inde-Népal