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Camille Schmitt,
restorer of works of art
from the Far East

Since 2002, Camille Schmitt's workshop is specialized in the conservation and restoration of works of art from the Far East (China, Japan, Korea, Vietnam): paintings and calligraphies made on silk or paper: scrolls, albums, screens, prints, fans, embroideries, tapestries (kösi or kesi)

The workshop serves individuals, public and private institutions.

Camille Schmitt, retouching in progress on an imperial work from the Qing Court, ink and colors on silk, Heidelberg Museum © Camille Schmitt, 2023

Focus on the career of Camille Schmitt, who we will have the pleasure of meeting again during this new edition of Printemps Asiatique (Asian Week Paris).

On the occasion of a guided tour of the Musée Cernuschi conducted under her expertise and Mr. Mael Bellec (curator in charge of the museum's Chinese and Korean collections), the artworks will be highlighted by these two complementary perspectives.

To begin with, could you describe your background? Why did you specialize in Asian art?

I became interested in Asia when I started studying Chinese language by correspondence at the age of 15. After studying Chinese languages and civilizations at INALCO, I obtained a doctorate in art history at the Sorbonne on the conservation of Chinese paintings in the 17th century (published under the title "Medicine of Art"). My vocation as a restorer arose during an internship with Claire Illouz (now retired, who restored many Chinese and Japanese works in France), and was confirmed during an internship with Hung Sun-Hsin, currently restorer at the Palace Museum in Taibei.

At the same time, I trained in the practice of mounting and restoration of Chinese works on silk and paper for a year in the workshop of Mr. Cen Delin (Taiwan, 1999) and for a year in the department of restoration of graphic and pictorial artworks at the Palace Museum (Beijing, 2000).

I have observed the suffering state of Chinese works in private and public collections in Europe, especially due to a lack of know-how.

Can you describe your job as an art restorer?

The profession of art restorer allows us to see the most intimate part of a work of art: its damage, the reasons for its fragility, and to help its longevity. It is a privilege to accompany the works of art thanks to this work of "art doctor".  The materials (silk and paper) and the wrapping of the works of art in the Far East are very specific to this geographical area and require a long experience in the field.


Working on these artworks requires a cultural knowledge that lies in an important investment in aesthetic understanding, art history and more globally in cultural issues. The main part of the job consists in consolidating the works, but also in making them regain their original legibility and beauty, but often this consists above all in de-restoring: in removing the marks of old and unsuitable restorations.

Has any particular artwork stood out for you during your career?

I was lucky enough to restore a very damaged, monumental work (2m x 7m) on silk, housed in the Musée Cernuschi: The Hanlin Academy. It is an important 17th century court work that everyone had lost track of. Its restoration lasted several years until the work could be exhibited in 2009; it was a real challenge because of its large size and the deplorable state in which the years had brought it.


Discover the work : The Hanlin Academy


Since then I have had the opportunity to restore several works from the Qing Court, which have allowed me to acquire some expertise in the field. While I have had the opportunity to work on very old art pieces (10th century), I also mounted works by contemporary artists, also very moving.

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Nguyễn Đức Chân, Unicorn Festival (Vietnamese painting, 19th c.), Paris, private collection © Camille Schmitt, 2015

Your latest artistic crush ?

The work of Danièle Schiffmann, an artist from Strasbourg who works on Asian paper, whose work I had the opportunity to mount on a roll during an exhibition in Taiwan in 2018.

Your favorite museum?

Danièle Schiffmann monotype

I have a special connection with the musées Guimet and Cernuschi. I am very familiar with the works presented in the last exhibition at the Musée Cernuchi (Ink in motion), and the next exhibition at the Musée Guimet (Médecines d’Asie) will also contain works restored by my workshop.

What book inspires you?

I regularly consult Nathalie Monnet's book, L'Empire du trait , which is an in-depth research on Chinese artworks including all graphic arts, from calligraphy to stamping.


To learn more :

Camille Schmitt's workshop

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