“The fragrance of luxury.” Collections of the Sosenko family – a collection of perfume vessels illustrating the history of fragrance
“The fragrance of luxury” collection of antique perfume bottles is one of the thematic sections found in the Sosenko Family Collection – a selection of privately owned items which include exhibits of unique museum and artistic value. They cover many areas of the history of material human culture. These collections are made available to the public in the form of exhibitions, publications, lectures, educational and iconographic materials.
The idea behind creating the “Fragrance of luxury” collection was to present the history of the perfume bottle as a work of art, from ancient to modern times. The author of this concept is Katarzyna Sosenko, an art historian, antiquarian, and curator of the Sosenko collections. The collection is unique in character. It is the only project of this type on a national scale. The versatility of the exhibits and the ever developing narration allow the exhibits to be interpreted on various levels: artistic, historical, cultural, and moral.
The collection includes all historical periods illustrated with selected examples of ancient vessels and bottles for fragrances in the following styles and chronology: ancient Greece, ancient Rome, Middle Ages, Renaissance, Baroque, Classicism, Biedermeier, Art Nouveau, Art Deco, Polish design during the communist period. One feature of the collection is the presentation of the history of artistic craftsmanship. Precious materials were used in the production of perfume bottles, such as expensive metals and stones, enamel, rock crystal, tortoiseshell, ivory, or pearls. The vessels were decorated with elaborate techniques of artistic craftsmanship, such as engraving, carving, gilding, inlay or intarsia. Perfume bottles are also a source of knowledge about the design of bygone eras. The form of the vessels and individual ornamentation make it possible to define the aesthetic preferences bygone eras.
The collection includes many bottles designed by prominent artists, as well as commercial packagings which illustrate the development of graphic design and the art of advertising. Particularly noteworthy are the designs by René Lalique – an artist and fashion designer employed by Francois Coty, Elsa Schiaparelli – who created many designs inspired by Surrealism, or Lou Doufman, who was the creator of a bottle design for the most famous perfume in the world, Chanel No. 5, whose form has not changed since its inception in 1921. A great example is Roger & Gallet, who received the Grand Prix at the International Exposition in Paris in 1900 for a luxurious case made of red, satin silk.
The concept of the design, exhibits, and iconographic values gained recognition as part of a prestigious project during the “Fragrance – an invisible code” exhibition at the Copernicus Science Centre organised by the French Institute and the Goethe Institute in Poland. Selected exhibits from the collection, not available to the general public on a daily basis, are presented at the WMM website.
Elaborated by: Katarzyna Sosenko (Collection of the Sosenko Family Foundation),
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Poland License.