Que Sommes Nous What Are We?
Où Allons Nous Where Are We Going?
-P. Gauguin / 1897
Since the start of days, human beings have been asking themselves the same questions. In order to move forward, we must first look back to our origin and understand ourselves. With the same aim in mind, Vacheron Constantin went on a mission to connect their vision of human technological progress with the true identity of humanity.
Vacheron Constantin carries 260 years of legacy and has always been deeply attached to culture, human nature and the arts. The Métiers d'Art collection, which launched in 2005, embodies the brand's intricate creativity and meticulous craftsmanship. With the aim of examining the human lineage through time, the brand explored the theme of primitive arts. The Barbier-Muller museum in Geneva has one the most important private collection of primitive arts in the world and the proximity of the museum gave birth to the idea of searching for inspiration among the collection in the institution. Different symbolic themes of the primitive arts were experimented with but eventually, the theme that gave Juan-Carlos Torres, CEO at the time, and his team most excitement was the tribal masks, which represented every civilization in every age.
In primitive cultures, masks have a double function as both aesthetic objects and ritual devices; be it a means to communicate with the spirits of ancestors or a manifestation of ancient rituals and spectacles. Observing each mask in the collection of Metiers d'Art "Les Masques", we are then reminded of the numerous admirable traits possessed by humans: sophistication, refinement, elegance and perseverance, all engraved onto ancient masks by our common ancestors on a starry night by the fire.
Launched in April 2007, the Metiers d'Art "Les Masques" is an opus of twelve recreations of tribal masks in a limited edition of 25 pieces each, created over a period of three years, with a total number of merely 300 pieces. This exclusive set of works of art embodies primitive aesthetics at its finest. Unprecedented in auction history, this is the first time a complete set is offered on the auction market and Sotheby’s is beyond honoured to be entrusted with this prestigious work. The present lot offers a unique opportunity for watch and art connoisseurs alike.
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