Masterpiece of the Month: Nécessaire
Nécessaire, 1729, by Henri-Nicolas Cousinet. Currently on view in Decorative Arts of the Kings, at the High. Image copyright High Museum of Art.
Thursday, May 3, at 6:30 and 7:30 p.m., the High offers a free lecture on the nécessaire -- a French traveling accessory filled with everything needed to enjoy tea or hot chocolate -- given to Queen Marie Leczinska by her husband King Louis XV. This piece is said to epitomize the exquisitely crafted, slightly exotic, luxury items that established the French as chic trendsetters and experts on fine living.
Apart from the nécessaire, the High's exhibition, Decorative Arts of the Kings, also includes masterworks by furniture makers such as Jean-Baptiste-Claude Sene and Bernard van Risenburgh II (I thought of Kelly Wearstler's Hillcrest library when I saw the van Risenburgh writing table.) Stately 17th century tapestries are on view too. But the curators injected some whimsy with Isabelle de Borchgrave's life-size paper-costumed Marie-Antoinette and Louis XVI. Everything can be seen in a more relaxed way on Thursdays when the High is open from 5 to 8 p.m.
Above, a gift idea in the spirit of the nécessaire: MarieBelle™ lunchbox filled with six Aztec hot chocolate single serving envelopes and instructions for kids. $25.
Related reading: The Essence of Style: How the French Invented High Fashion, Fine Food, Chic Cafes, Style, Sophistication, and Glamour.