Portrait of a Teacher - Leonard Pouy
Doctor in Art History and Teacher-Researcher at L’ÉCOLE, School of Jewelry Arts
A word about your professional career? How did you get into the jewelry world?
I am a pure product of the European university system! After a Master's degree in art history spent between the universities of Leuven, in Flanders, and Paris-Sorbonne, I decided to devote my doctoral thesis, co-directed with the University of Geneva, to Dutch painting of the 17th century.
As a doctoral student, I was able to collaborate from 2010 to 2014, as a researcher at the INHA and had the opportunity to teach for five years in various French universities. It was at this time, in order to get out of my field of specialization, that I decided to take an interest in the decorative arts. Little did I know that I would soon fall into the stew of jewelry history!
When and how did you become a teacher at the L’ECOLE, School of Jewelry Arts?
It so happens that I share with Guillaume Glorieux, Director of Teaching and Research at L'Ecole, the same thesis advisor Professor Alain Mérot! After defending my doctorate, Professor Mérot recommended that I contact L’ECOLE, knowing that they was looking for art historians for their activities. This is how I was able to work from 2018 on a research project around the commercial exchanges related to natural pearls between the Arabian Gulf and France at the dawn of the 20th century. A year later, this research project became an exhibition and I had joined the internal team of the L’ÉCOLE! That's how much the experience had lured me.
What courses do you teach? A favorite among them?
I teach all the History of Jewelry and Initiation courses, while also occasionally teaching certain savoir-faire or gemology courses in the historical sections.
I have a particular fondness for the course "Power of Jewelry: Amulets, Talismans and Lucky Charms" given the diversity of cultures and periods it covers, as well as for the course "The Engagement Ring: A Love Story” which allows us to study in detail an object that is much older, richer and more complex than we could imagine!
Your next project or the one you would like to realize?
I wish to keep it a secret, but I am currently very interested in the question of hidden treasures and how these sets of objects, which are amassed, hidden and then fortuitously discovered, can radically change the conception we have of a practice or an era... While the dragons, witches and elves whose stories we are told during childhood tend to be rare today, treasures do exist and can even be studied! To be continued...
And finally, could you tell us about your favorite piece of jewelry?
It's a hard question to answer, but if I have to be honest, I must admit that it's a jewel, in a painting, in this case the one that hangs from the left ear of "The girl with a pearl earring" painted by Johannes Vermeer! A pearl so beautiful and big that it would make Marie-Antoinette or Elizabeth Taylor blush...