Francine de Corbez – Collectors’ Island

August 22, 2019 5:19 pm

Francine de Corbez is obsessed with Chinese teapots. This intrigue began in the late 1980’s when she and her husband Michel travelled regularly between Paris and China – Michel worked as a flight attendant on the Asian routes and speaks Mandarin. This resulted in a collection of over 300 teapots, some going as far back as the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). After several years of collecting, Francine decided to recreate a Chinese teahouse using only authentic materials. Three fifty-foot-long shipping containers later, her ambitious project became a reality in Paris.

Each year the Genevan watchmaker Vacheron Constantin releases an art book titled Collectors’ Island, this year I photographed the entire book and this is one of ten stories included.

Many thanks to Bradley Seymour for the invaluable creative direction, and to Lara Lo Calzo for her exceptional work as Editorial Manager. Captions were written by Virginie Bertrand.

Standing behind her rosewood counter, Francine de Corbez brings her collection to life, serving dozens of different types of tea in contemporary glass teapots.

Entrance to La Maison du Dragon teahouse (The Dragon Teahouse) bracketed by metal lanterns and surmounted by an original Chinese lacquered lacework canopy from the eighteenth century.

Chinese tea table and chairs, late eighteenth century. The table is set with teapots, cups and a silk tea caddy embroidered with a floral motif, China, nineteenth century.

Above and Below: Chinese teapots from the eighteenth to the nineteenth century.

A polychrome wooden dragon adorns a roof ridge beam.

Francine de Corbez deciphers the seal on one of her teapots. The rarest are signed by eminent masters. Her collection features Chinese and Japanese exemplars dating from the seventeenth to the nineteenth century.

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