Arlecchino Newsletter

Vol. 1 Issue n. 01
December 01, 1999

~~~ A Free bi-weekly newsletter of 36 subscribers
~~~ on the discussion of topics related to
~~~ the made-in-Italy products, to the Italian way of life
~~~ and more generally to the Italian style.
~~~ supported by Studiosoft at
~~~ Marco Piazzalunga, Publisher
~~~ Vol. 1, issue #1, December 01, 1999

Dear friends,

after months of hard work, it is a great pleasure for me to announce to you that the first issue of the ARLECCHINO NEWSLETTER, an e-magazine entirely dedicated to the lovers of the made-in-Italy and the Italian way-of-life all over the world, is now available.
The newsletter is drawn up with the precious contribution of several correspondents and friends from all over the world, but I am sure that your contribution will be vital in awarding this magazine with the due success, as each one of us desires to be able to write and be read by thousands of people from different cultures.
And my words are actually addressed to those who love Italy or are somehow interested in the Italian way of life: Arlecchino gives you this unique opportunity, that is to become a living part of our community.
"Arlecchino newsletter" is actually one of the several services that are available to our community, we have the TalkTalkChat, an instant-messaging chat, we have a discussion board where everybody can write whatever he wishes to write and be immediately read by the public, we have online stores where everybody can buy unique products of the Italian art that are hard to be found elsewhere. Other services are still in the making, and we stand waiting for further suggestions from you.
We open this number with some items that are strongly oriented to the  made-in-Italy as the introduction to Vicenza, the goldsmith's town par excellence, articles dedicated to the safeguard of the Italian art, such as the American contributions to the recent restoration of the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican or the re-opening of the Galleria Borghese in Rome, where highly precious historical and artistic works are found, the presentation of Italian characters like Leo Castelli, a discoverer of international artistic talents, and other interesting starting points for discussion.
Have a nice reading, hoping to find you again at our next issue.

Your tireless moderator,

Marco Piazzalunga


New Topics on Italian/European Fine Jewelry (2)

1) Monaco Visitors Say There's No Soul
by Associated Press

2) Vicenza, the gold city
by Jean Stafford

New Topics on Antique & Antique European Jewelry (2)

1) Christmas shopping
by BBC news

2) When is a Fake not a Fake? When it’s a Reproduction
by Phil Ellis

New Topics on Fine Arts in Italy/Europe (2)

1) Priest Finds Funds for Vatican Art
by Ellen Knickmeye

2) Leo Castelli, the emperor of modern art
by Ivana Culling

New Topics on Italian style (2)

1) Reopening Ceremonies at the Galleria Borghese
by Francesco Pini

2) Nazareno Gabrielli, designer and stylist
by Bob Wallace


-----====(* ITALIAN & EUROPEAN FINE JEWELRY *)====-----

Subject: Monaco Visitors Say There's No Soul

MONTE CARLO, Monaco, November 25, 1999 - Fortunes are won and lost through the night in the smoke-filled, exclusive backrooms of Monaco's casino, built by the architect of the Paris Opera House. Jewelry stores and Belle Epoque hotels with Italian-style frescoes and pink marble columns overlook the Mediterranean, where huge private yachts are moored year-round.
But for all its wealth, this tiny, sun-kissed tax haven -- smaller than New York's Central Park and for decades a magnet for the international jet set -- seems to lack soul.
"It's like a film set", Marco Peruzzi, a day-tripper from nearby Italy, said as he gazed at the sand-colored royal palace where the Grimaldi dynasty has ruled for seven centuries. "You may get a glimpse of celebrities. But you're left with an empty feeling."
Though they've endured their fair share of celebrity, scandals and tragedy, Monaco residents are renowned for fiercely shunning publicity and rarely talk to journalists. Unaccustomed to major crime, they closed ranks more than ever after billionaire banker Edmond Safra, one of the world's richest men, died in a suspicious fire in his two-floor penthouse last Friday.
Monaco's official population is about 30,000 and includes the likes of tennis stars Boris Becker and Bjorn Borg. But only about 5,000 are true natives. Residency is extremely difficult to achieve. No one, except for French citizens who arrived after 1957, pays income tax.
For the wealthy, Monte Carlo's clean, tree-lined streets feature some of the world's leading boutiques and jewelry stores.
Next to the Charles Garnier-built casino -- which features a marble-paved atrium with 28 Ionic columns as well as lavish bronze and gold ornaments -- is the Repossi outlet where Dodi Fayed reportedly bought a $205,400 diamond solitaire ring for Princess Diana shortly before their 1997 fatal car crash in Paris.
Nearby are Cartier , Christian Dior , Yves Saint Laurent  and Louis Vuitton  stores.
The glamour has fueled tourism, now a mainstay of the local economy. And much of that stems from the 1956 marriage of Rainier and Hollywood actress Grace Kelly.
In the aftermath of World War II, Monaco earned up to 90 percent of its revenues from gambling, compared to the official rate today of around 4 percent. It also attracted pharmaceutical and cosmetics industries as well as about 50 banks.

Associated Press


Subject: Vicenza, the gold city

MILAN, Italy, November 28, 1999 - Vicenza is curiously tranquil for a city marked by the dichotomy of its inner life. On one hand, it is a typical provincial town of aristocratic origin, and on the other, it is one of the strongest industrial centers in all of Italy. Crown jewel of the wealthy Veneto region, Vicenza boasts the highest per capita income and lowest rate of unemployment of all the Italian provinces.
To a large degree, Vicenza owes its good fortune to the entrepreneurial urges of its citizens. They are a reserved and retiring lot, imbued with a large portion of the work ethic. The microcosm of young industrialists, businessmen and artisans turns on and on, as they play out their vital roles upon the cities piazzas bounded by aristocratic facades; upon the surrounding rolling hills and along the banks of the Bacchiglione river.
The Vicenzian mercantile empire is based on simplicity. Things like gold, for example, that mainstay of trade. Gold is crafted by over 800 local enterprises which present their products at three annual international fairs.
The city was much favored by Palladio, a supreme Italian architect of the 1500's. Indeed, the his villas and noble residences which line the exceptionally beautiful Piazza dei Signori have become the symbols of Vicenza.

Jean Stafford

-------=======(* ANTIQUE & ANTIQUE JEWELRY *)=======-------

Subject: Christmas shopping

If you're stuck for inspiration on what to buy your nearest and dearest this year and want to avoid the Christmas shopping crowds, why not head to an auction house for a seasonal offering?
*** Alternative Christmas presents ***
Phillips Bayswater will be holding a sale of alternative Christmas presents on 7th December which includes a wide range of ideas for him and her. Phillips are also holding a fine jewellery sale on 14th December, which includes an unusual Cartier pendant, with the word Noel spelled out in blue and white enamel.
*** Auto mania ***
Or for the automobile enthusiast in the family, it might be worth heading to Brooks who are holding a series of sales of collectors' motors cars, motorcycles, toys and models, Formula 1 and motorsport memorabilia. The sales take place on Saturday 4th, Monday 6th and Tuesday 7th December respectively, and include a range of Ferrari models, along with a number of wonderfully evocative posters from automative history. (Brooks Telephone 020 7228 8000)
*** A cuddly companion ***
Christie's sale of teddy bears and soft toys on 6th December will certainly revive nostalgic memories. The Teddy-tastic sale is likely to appeal to the teddy bear specialist and present-buyer alike, with prices starting at 200. The sale includes a blue teddy from the 1930s, and a limited edition Steiff teddy bear that has been especially commissioned by the auction house to mark their 25th anniversary.
*** Sporting heroes ***
If you're mad about sport, why not turn to the world of collectables and an autograph of a sporting hero? Dominic Winter Book Auctions is holding a sale of autographs on 9th December, which span the worlds of film, television, theatre and sport. The autographs have been collected by one man, and all have an undisputed provenance.
*** Starting a collection ***
Even if the person in mind claims to have everything, there's always a small something that could start them on the road to collecting. George Kidner are holding a sale of Christmas presents on Tuesday 7th December, which includes a number of small items that would be an ideal start to a collection. One example is this silver pincushion in the form of a pig which is estimated to fetch between 20 and 30. (George Kidner telephone 01590 670070)

BBC news online


Subject: When is a Fake not a Fake? When it’s a Reproduction

In Britain today, there is a thriving industry in fakes. Copies of everything from antique lamps to furniture to vases are manufactured every day and sold off to the public, and it’s all perfectly legal. Well, so it should be, because these fakes are also known as reproductions. The difference between the two can probably be summed up thus: all fakes are reproductions, but not all reproductions are fakes. Or, to use a gardening analogy, it is often said that a weed is simply a flower growing in the wrong place. Much of the reproduction trade is responsible for some very pretty flowers indeed, but that doesn’t mean to say that they are the same as the originals, and anyone who inadvertently buys a repro instead of the real thing would be justifiably upset.
*** Why not repro? ***
Reproduction goods are greatly disliked by many antiques collectors and dealers, and this is understandable. An antique collector is interested in antiques not just because they are nice to look at or practical to use, but because they have been around for a long time. They are a part of history, and part of the appeal of, say, an antique chair is the knowledge that someone once sat in that chair reading a newspaper with the latest reports from the Crimea. A reproduction just isn’t the same.
If that’s the case, why do people buy reproduction pieces at all? There are a variety of reasons. One is that a replacement is needed to complete a set. If it isn’t possible to find a matching dining chair to make up the numbers, then a good quality reproduction or two can be your little secret. Unless, that is, your dinner guests include a furniture specialist who hasn’t learned how to switch off after work, but that’s a calculated risk.
*** Cost ***
Another reason is often said to be cost. Sometimes repro does represent a cheaper alternative to someone who wants the look without the expense, but this isn’t always as obvious as people might think. The difference in price between the cost of an antique and a convincing reproduction can be negligible. In some cases, the antique might even be cheaper and it certainly won’t fall in value as soon as you have taken it home.
A third reason is that some people simply don’t want antiques. Reproduction is actually a preferred choice, and it is chosen because buyers feel more confident about buying them. Some members of the public do feel that in a reproduction showroom they are at least likely to be getting what they pay for. With antiques, well, who knows? It’s an image problem which the antiques trade has had for some time, and it’s no use ignoring that fact. But it’s also ironic because one of the greatest fears of those members of the public who are timid about buying antiques is that they could end up being sold a reproduction!
*** Scientific ***
Many dealers are quite scientific in their approach, basing their opinions on extensive research. Others speak in rather less scientific terms and, when in doubt, rely on ‘gut feeling’, or ‘intuition’ that sixth sense that some dealers seem to have for spotting a ‘wrong ‘un’.
Even so, even specialist dealers can be deceived from time to time, which is why anyone going into the trade tends to learn quickly you pay financially for your mistakes.
Sadly, although new technologies can help with accurate dating and identification, most dealers don’t have access to them. Characters in science fiction films often have hand-held devices that could scan an antique table and could not only give an accurate dating and attribution, but also an indication of the presence of lifeforms (ie woodworm). Modern day furniture dealers have no such assistance.
*** Law ***
In the absence of such a useful device, the dealer must still be bound by laws which means that he or she can be held personally responsible for goods sold. Trading Standards Officers have successfully brought a number of cases recently which have involved antiques described as genuine, but which turned out to be fake. Those of you who write to us periodically about the extensive and labyrinthine disclaimers in certain auction catalogues will be heartened to know that auctioneers have been among those prosecuted. Or perhaps not.
For the record, as a seller of antiques, you are responsible for the accuracy of your descriptions. You could be at risk of prosecution for a mislabelling even if you had no intention to deceive, although a defence could be made if you can show that all reasonable precautions were taken. This is the so-called ‘due diligence’ we have been hearing so much about in relation to stolen goods.
*** Education ***
Some system of marking reproduction pieces might well make life easier for the novice especially as some reproductions are getting better and better. Yet the best defence against being caught out remains education. The main weapon in the armoury of the collector is knowledge, and here I must make one final point. Everyone is afraid of buying a repro believing it to be genuine, but part of the excitement of the world of antiques is that it can also happen the other way around. Occasionally, you may buy a piece which the seller believes to be a copy but which is in fact an original. I wonder how many people would take it back, demanding to pay the difference?

Phil Ellis

------=====(* FINE ARTS IN ITALY & EUROPE *)=====------

Subject: Priest Finds Funds for Vatican Art

VATICAN CITY November 29, 1999 - The first full-time fund-raiser for the Vatican Museums makes money the old-fashioned way -- he urns it, hunting down a patron for each antique vase, faded fresco or tarnished treasure.
In five years on the job, the Rev. Allen Duston has signed up enough monied Americans for repair projects ranging from the newly finished restoration of the Sistine Chapel to polishing up Pope Pius XI's old roadster.
"An easy sell" the globe-trotting American priest recalls at his computer in an old papal library, adding, "And the papal carriages were a very easy sell."
"Pretty frescoes" are easy too, Duston says. `"And if it's a big name, it helps -- Raphael, Michelangelo."
Ticket fees generally pay only for day-to-day operation of the Vatican Museums, which cover 20 miles of viewing space for art dating back millennia and covering continents.
Duston, a former president of the Dominican theology school at the University of California at Berkeley, and his Vatican-based staff of two are dedicated to finding money for the bigger projects, chiefly restoration. In 1999, the projects included everything from 8th century to 6th century B.C. Etruscan works to handicapped access to the Etruscan Museum.
Pope John Paul II will preside over Saturday's dedication of Duston's biggest project to date -- the cleaning and repair of the wall frescoes lining the Sistine Chapel.
Botticelli and his peers from Umbria and Tuscany painted the parallel allegories of the lives of Moses and Jesus in the 15th century, decades before Michelangelo got to work on the ceiling.
About 20 donors, many of them Americans, paid for the $3 million restoration.
Over the past weekend, Duston secured his biggest single gift to date -- $2 million for his next big project, restoring rooms of Pope Pius IV, courtesy of a private New York foundation.
Americans make up about 1,000 of the 1,200 names on the patron's list -- which has tripled in size since Duston and his staff started raising money full-time.
It includes some big names, such as Loretta Young, Bob Hope and Ricardo Montalban. And some big money, Texas oilmen among them.
About 60 percent of the givers are Catholic but a sizable minority aren't -- 15 percent are Jews, the rest mostly Protestant. And whether they are religiously observant or not does not have a lot to do with it.
"These are people who are not necessarily interested in religion but they are interested in art", Duston says.
After financial troubles, the Vatican in the 1990s turned increasingly to sponsors for its upkeep. Italian utilities footed much of the bill for the scrubbing of the facade this summer.
"One of the first things you have to do is work through the myth of the riches of the Vatican", Duston said.
John Paul has had an answer for those who question art as a priority for a church.
The church's patronage of the arts is "age-old", John Paul said at a 1997 dedication of restored frescoes of Fra Angelico, calling "beauty ... a clear expression of mankind's highest aspirations and a manifestation of the glory of God."
And, "sure, there are perks2, Duston says of the other motivations driving his patrons.
For a minimum contribution of $500 a year, those perks include backstairs access at the Vatican Museums.
For considerably more, there's the satisfying prospect of a plaque with your name on it at the museums -- and you, standing next to it, while a loved one snaps your picture.
Which makes holes in the ground a perpetually hard sell for Duston.
Finding funding for archaeological excavations under early Rome churches is "the hardest thing of all", the fund-raiser says.
"People like to see ... what it is they helped conserve."

Ellen Knickmeye


Subject: Leo Castelli, the emperor of modern art

NEW YORK CITY November 11, 1999 - "I just might buy a couple of paintings from this guy", Leo Castelli once said to his erstwhile gallery director Ivan Karp. "This guy" was Andy Warhol. It was the early 60s and Castelli's infallible intuition was tuned in to the frequencies of the art world and specifically pop art, an artistic movement destined to make history and change the face of modern art. Leo Castelli was born in Trieste (Italy) as Leo Krauss in 1907, when the city was still part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and his destiny was to become a discoverer of artists. His passion led him to Paris in the 1930s. Then, during World War II, he made his way to New York. From that time on New York was his homeland and his nourishment, a city, or rather, a microcosmic concentration of the world, which has rewarded his affection with a deep sense of gratitude.
Leo Castelli is the man who discovered John, Rauschemberg, Stella, Lichtenstein and Warhol, changing the face of American art forever.
Following his recent death at the age of 91, New York is celebrating his great contribution to the diffusion of American art in the world.

Ivana Culling

-----====(* ITALIAN STYLE *)====-----

Subject: Reopening Ceremonies at the Galleria Borghese

ROME Italy, November 15, 1999 - After 13 years of renovation, one of the most significant and richest of art museums in Rome, the Galleria Borghese has reopened its doors to the public.
As part of Italy's summer of culture, the month of July witnessed the reopening of one of the most prominent art center's in the capital city after some 13 years of renovation work: the Galleria Borghese, housed within the splendid complex of the Villa Borghese.
*** A Bit of History ***
The gallery contains one of the world's most important collections of Italian art. The collection was amassed by cardinal Scipione Borghese, nephew of Pope Paul V (1605-1621), who commissioned the palace's construction by the architect G. Vasanzio (1613).
It was built in a forest of huge fir trees populated by animals of every imaginable sort. Scipione Borghese was obsessed with art and stooped to any means to expand his collection (from kidnapping to holding his victims under arrest for ransom). He even went so far as to abscond with Raphael's Deposizione (1507) from the church of San Francesco di Perugia with the help of his uncle Pope Paul V., a gesture which sparked off an uprising of the local population. His complete lack of scruples is illustrated by his most threatening "request" to the painter Guido Reni to return to Rome in order to finish a particular work and by his having 'il Domenichino' arrested because the artist refused to surrender his painting Caccia di Diana.
*** The Permanent Collection ***
The Villa Borghese is once again enhanced by a double staircase completely reconstructed for the reopening using Vasanzio's original plans an attribute which, it must be said, has provoked contradictory opinions. To explore the villa's magnificent salons is to encounter countless celebrated masterpieces. Among these are several scultures done by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, who was actually discovered while still quite a young man by Scipione Borghese. Displayed works include Apollo and Daphne, The Abduction of Persephone and Aeneas , Anchise and Ascanio.
The most famous sculpture in the collection remains the Paolina Borghese Bonaparte Come Venere Vincitrice, most likely commissioned to replenish the family's collection which was impoverished by the sale of 250 marble works to brother-in-law Napoleon (who promptly carted them off to the Louvre in Paris). The statue, ever a symbol of the gallery itself, was the object of intensive efforts to restore its original magnificence. Many are the masterpieces gracing the collection: Caravaggio, Raffaello, Rubens, Pietro da Cortona, Antonello da Messina, Annibale Carracci e Dosso Dossi, Domenichino, Bronzino, Tiziano, to name but a few.
For additional information, please contact:
Galleria Borghese
Piazzale Scipione Borghese n. 5
00197 ROMA
ph. +39-06-32810

Francesco Pini


Subject: Nazareno Gabrielli, designer and stylist

PERUGIA, Italy November 25, 1999 - There's a common denominator in the history of Nazareno Gabrielli. It's that special ability, based on the respect of traditions, of living ahead of the times. This does not mean being unrealistic, but rather knowing how to interpret the needs and changes of taste and fashion according to an exclusive and personal style always coherent with its own distinct set of values.
And so Nazareno Gabrielli's world is born, a cosmos which encompasses a style of life, cultured and refined, whose fundamental values are elegance, quality, taste and class modelled on the trends of modern life. All this is the result of a progressive evolution.
Today the consumer is mature and demands a high quality product. It is a time which sees the great return of "labels" of great traditions, which have over the years been able to resist the temptation of being "in fashion". That is the case of Nazareno Gabrielli which is proposing itself as a reference point for the buyers of the 90s.
At present the fashion house from Tolentino offers a total look range, from suits to accessories, including traditional leather goods, paper goods and other gifts. Nazareno Gabrielli is hoping to intensify its presence in the men's and women's fashion segments with product lines in leather, fabric and knitwear.
These efforts are allowing a tighter operative integration of all its activities, both as far as product development and production are concerned, and at the distribution and investment levels, and achieving in this way important economic sinergies.
Thus the world of Nazareno Gabrielli is being continuously enriched into a dimension that makes quality constant in time and space. The bag, scarf, electronic agenda, wallet or foulard are all the different fruits of a unique idea which was born from a culture rooted in the artisanal activity of an Italy which was able to impose itself in time and is now recognized worldwide.
For additional information, please contact:
Nazareno Gabrielli s.p.a.
Contrada Cisterna 63 - 62029 Tolentino (MC) - Italy
Phone +39-0733-902.1 Fax +39-0733-974455/972418
Via Vittor Pisani 7 - 20124 Milano - Italy
Phone +39-02-66985033 Fax +39-02-66985292
Press Office: Sabrina Mazzonzelli

Bob Wallace, AtlasPress


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