COLLECTING
Thomaï Serdari on Fine Arts & Luxury
The Centaur in Art
Centaur collection by Pierre Hardy. Courtesy of Hermès.

Centaur collection by Pierre Hardy. Courtesy of Hermès.

According to Greek poet and astronomer Eratosthenes, Centaur, a constellation of stars situated under Scorpio and Virgo, and whose hooves bathe in the Milky Way, has his head turned over to Sagittarius and rests his legs, it seems, on the Antarctic Circle while supporting the Tropic on his shoulders.

Legend has it that before becoming a constellation, Centaur was no other than Chiron, who lived on the Greek mountain of Pelion, and was known to humans for his sense of justice. The divine hero Heracles, who was in love with him, joined Chiron in his grotto and inadvertently killed him a few years later when one of Heracles’s arrows accidentally wounded Chiron on his leg. It seems that he was rewarded for his untimely death by taking on the form of a new constellation, Centaur.

As a constellation, Centaur has been known since Eratosthenes’s times for its luminosity. Indeed, there are three stars on his head, a brilliant one on each shoulder and one on his left shoulder, one on his hand, one right in the center of his chest, one on each of his anterior hooves, four on his back, two brilliant ones on his stomach, three on his tail, a brilliant on the horse’s ankle, one on each knee of his anterior legs and one on each shoe. That makes twenty-four major stars in total.

Chiron, whose name even evokes dexterity because of its linguistic origins from the Greek noun cheir= hand, was in charge of divine prestige and the initiation of other Gods to divinity. Apparently, he was also known to be pious, wise, and with deep knowledge of the arts among which primarily of music, medicine, war, and hunting.

The equine fine jewelry collection launched two years ago by Hermès and designed by Pierre Hardy is called Centaur. The horse’s hooves feature heavily in the array of designs and certainly remind us of Hermès’s origins as a saddler. In fact, the luxury house had launched a much more humble interpretation of the horse’s hoof as a ring in the late 1970s/early 1980s. The original series was made of silver and gold, without any precious stones.

The more recent 14-piece collection includes rings and necklaces in rose gold, black jade, orange aventurine stone and diamond pave. The Fouet necklace for example is decorated with 3,669 diamonds of 36.16 carats in total. Such luminosity brings to mind the constellation of Centaur, his prior dexterity when he occupied the world of humans as Chiron as well as his mythology of superior wisdom and power to initiate other Gods to the realm of divinity. No one can argue with the power of that message, already well ingrained in our understanding of how the world of humans relates to that of the Gods.

The timelessness of the design, the preciousness of materials and the universal message this collection carries make each piece a piece of art and an item worth collecting.

© Thomaï Serdari