Arlecchino Newsletter

Vol. 2 Issue n. 02
January 17, 2000

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
~~~ ARLECCHINO NEWSLETTER
~~~
~~~ A Free bi-weekly newsletter of 125 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 http://www.studiosoft.it
~~~
~~~ Marco Piazzalunga, Publisher
~~~ ArlecchinoPublisher@studiosoft.it
~~~
~~~ Vol. 2, issue #02, January 17, 2000
~~~
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Dear friends,

I must confess I did not believe in such a growth in the number of online subscribers to the newsletter, 125 subscribers already since only two months from our start.
The interest in the Italian style and way of life and in some European curiosities is much alive and our readers like the definitely convivial style of the e-zine very much since they are not forced to a careful reading, hence they never get tired, I'll dare say they get relaxed, which is a much pleasant experience.
Read the funny article written by an American who, while visiting Venice and its surroundings, grew enthousiastic for the variety of tastes and savours of the Italian wine. To our kind ladies I would like to signal an update on the latest trends in connection with international jewelry, dealing with the redescovery of coloured precious stones.

Your tireless moderator,

Marco Piazzalunga


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IN THIS ISSUE
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New Topics on Italian/European Fine Jewelry (2)
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1) Giuseppe Picchiotti, italian jewelry designer
by Manuela Cardinetti

2) The Consumer Has Rediscovered Color
by Peggy Jo Donahue

New Topics on Antique & Antique European Jewelry (2)
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1) Art Nouveau and Edwardian Jewelry
by Judith S. Anderson

2) Drinking Glasses
by David Dickinson

New Topics on Fine Arts in Italy/Europe (3)
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1) Joan MIRO',The Metamorphoses of Form
by ARTNewspaper

2) The Drawings of Annibale Carracci
by National Gallery of Art - Washington D.C.

3) Rome in the 18th Century
by Philadelphia Museum of Art

New Topics on Italian style (3)
----------------------------------------------

1) When in Italy, live like the Italians:
drink reasonably priced wine
by Laurie Daniel

2) At Lisner, Music Italian Style
by Joseph McLellan

3) A new and exciting Italian restaurant in London
by Wine & Dine



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

Subject: Giuseppe Picchiotti, italian jewelry designer

MILAN, Italy January 10, 2000 - It is rare to come across a name that rivals Giuseppe Picchiotti in the arena of unique, one-of-a-kind fine jewelry.
The designer, who founded his own company in 1967 in Valenza, Italy, has achieved an international reputation for his distinctive designs that feature his signature square and baguette stones. This highly demanding and expensive aspect of jewelry design has been mastered by Picchiotti. The result is jewelry with the cachet of having an unmistakably Picchiotti look.
Picchiotti's designs are almost architectural in their intricacy and are inspired by classical lines. Customers describe their Picchiotti jewelry as "timeless" and transcending fashion styles. The pieces often become family heirlooms. Each piece is stamped and must be accompanied by a certificate of authenticity.
Picchiotti, when not traveling the world for unique stones and the finest of precious metals, personally oversees the design and manufacture of each.
In the strongest Italian tradition, Picchiotti has always been a family enterprise, with Picchiotti's wife and children working within the business.
Picchiotti is a two-time winner of the Couture Design Award for his stunning creations of gemstone jewelry.
Around the world, the designer's jewelry is known not only as beautiful works of art, but also a worthy investment.
http://www.gemkey.com/valenza

Manuela Cardinetti

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Subject: The Consumer Has Rediscovered Color

VICENZA, Italy January 11, 2000 - For jewelers who love colored gemstones, pastel pearls, enamels, beads, opaque stones and colored gold, the spirit of the times is with you at last. After an agonizingly long period of white on white in jewelry and neutrals in clothing and store interiors, the consuming world has rediscovered color at last.
Pundits credit a strong economy, which always brings color to the forefront (think '80s Nancy Reagan-red or the smashing '60s colors featured in the new Austin Powers movie). Trend watchers point to newly colorful computers, cell phones and other consumer products that are breaking out of neutral hell and causing people to think about color in a new and different light.
We've all heard rumblings before about a return to color, with little ultimate change in retailers' colored gem sales. But this embrace of color feels different. With other color spurts during the bleached-out '90s, a single color would be cited as the trend, such as red, pink or blue. This time around, there's a veritable rainbow of shades on the horizon, including the above three, but also orange, yellow and purple in pale to saturated shades.
Even the most monochromatic women I know are beginning to take a timid step toward color, with a red scarf, a blue watch strap or a colored gem ring. In fact, most women probably prefer the idea of using color as an accent rather than as the total picture. Black, gray, beige and brown are just too darn easy for busy women, a secret men have been privy to for centuries. Women also increasingly fear looking like walking daffodils or tomatoes, which is why you see relatively few women outside of television and magazines wearing a total color look. This is good news for jewelers, who can show women how colorful jewelry adds a touch of spice to their most sober neutrals.
The lovely rush of color provided by newly popular bead necklaces, shown in a spread in June Vogue,or the warmth of yellow gold, cited as "back in style" in May Elle,is hard to argue with, even for the most colorblind of women. InStyle, the hottest magazine for women right now, has been beating the drum for color in jewelry this whole year, culminating in this month's focus on "semiprecious" gems (all right, we'll forgive the magazine for using the non-approved term).
When it comes to color, don't forget to think about your store's image as well. An expert designer reports that Asian-influenced reds and yellows, as well as already strong blues and purples, are showing up in store carpeting, wall coverings and displays. A well-chosen vibrant color can define who you are like almost no other design element, as Tiffany, with its blue box, and Cartier, with its red and gold one, well know. Buy one new accent piece for your store in a popular color and replenish your gem inventory. The color buyers are coming.

Peggy Jo Donahue

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

Subject: Art Nouveau and Edwardian Jewelry

The turn of the century (1890 - 1910) was a period of great change and innovation. After nearly 65 years of Queen Victoria's rule (1837 - 1901), even the tradition loving Victorians were ready for something new. In the realm of fine jewelry, this quest for innovation evolved into two very different and extremely beautiful schools of jewelry design - Art Nouveau and Edwardian.
The Art Nouveau was an exploration into the world of nature and fantasy.   The leading jewelers of the day - Louis Comfort Tiffany, Karl Faberge, Rene Lalique and Georges Fouquet - created extraordinarily beautiful and original jewels inspired by natural and mythological themes. Exotic flowers, mythical beasts, dragon flies and enchanted women set amidst sinuous, vine-like designs were all common motifs.
The Art Nouveau jewelers also experimented with new gem materials. Tortoise shell, horn, baroque pearls, demantoid garnets, moon stones, and spectacular enameling were all part of the Art Nouveau jeweler's palette. The emphasis was on the originality and beauty of the jewel, not the intrinsic value of the materials used.
While Art Nouveau was the style of the avant garde, Edwardian jewels reflected the refined, elegant tastes of the English aristocracy and wealthy American industrialists. An airy lightness and cool elegance characterize Edwardian jewelry.
Platinum was the metal of choice and it was fashioned into delicate lace-like creations set with sparkling, brilliant-cut diamonds. Some pieces also include colored gemstones such as pastel blue Montana Sapphires, Australian black opals and natural pearls.
In the finest Edwardian jewels the sparkling gemstones appear to be floating in a lacy field of platinum.
If you love antique jewelry, you inevitably become a collector of books about jewels from the past. Two wonderful books that discuss the jewelry of the Art Nouveau and Edwardian periods are:  Antique and 20th Century Jewellery by Vivienne Becker and Understanding Jewellery by David Bennett & Daniela Mascetti.   Each of these books is a invaluable reference and will add greatly to your enjoyment and understanding of antique jewelry. Happy reading!
http://www.artnouveau.org

Judith S. Anderson
Gemologist, Appraiser, Designer

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Subject: Drinking Glasses

When you choose a fine vintage wine, naturally you're going to drink it from a fine antique drinking glass. Purist collectors wouldn't look at anything other than 18th-century glasses, and it was the Georgian period which really produced the finest.
Early 18th-century wine glasses are very heavy. The crystal was made with a high proportion of lead oxide making the glass highly suitable for fine cut, engraved decoration. The ingredients consisted of three parts silica, two parts red lead, one part potash, a pinch of saltpetre, borax and arsenic.
Balusters dates from about 1710. It was the first English drinking glass - previously people had used Venetian glass. It owes more to the contemporary style in furniture than glass. It has a folded foot, which gives it greater solidity. And it's heavy. Balusters are rare so, if you find one, it'll cost you about £1,800.
In 1745 the government imposed a tax on glass makers. They were burning a huge amount of wood to produce lead glass and the timber was much needed for ship building. The glass industry changed their manufacturing processes to avoid the heavy taxes, producing much lighter styles of glass, known as balustroids.
The stem is plainer, the glass is a bit lighter than its predecessor - and it's a bit lighter too on the pocket. Now that's not bad for a bit of 18th-century glass.
As the 18th century progressed, craftsmen combined lightweight qualities with enough decoration to appeal to the tastes of wealthy buyers. They invented the air twist stem.
Genuine 18th-century air twists normally start at about £300. Superb examples are going to set you back about £600.
When white enamel is introduced into the stem, it's called an opaque twist.
The Rolls Royce of the 18th century is a double series opaque twist, exquisitely enamelled around the rim with fruiting vines. This glass was made by the Newcastle-based Beilby family. Last summer a Beilby glass smashed all records and sold for £95,000.
So, when it comes to buying 18th-century glasses, here are a few basic tips:
-get hold of them and feel them, the glass should feel heavy, that's because of the lead content.
- the feet should be larger than the bowl.
- the glass should ring.
- most important, when you buy glasses, never buy damaged or chipped - they must be perfect.
When you buy a modern wine glass, the resale value plummets the second you walk out of the shop door. With an antique glass, it holds its value and, over time, it may even appreciate.

David Dickinson

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

Subject: Joan MIRÓ,The Metamorphoses of Form

FLORENCE Italy, January 11, 2000
exhibition at Palazzo Strozzi - Florence, Italy (18th December 1999 - 25th April 2000)
Joan Miró (Barcelona 1893 - Palma de Mallorca 1983).
The exhibition presents more than one hundred works by the artist ranging from large powerful drawings and his colourful lyrical canvas paintings to a massive weaving and a large group of bronze and mixed media sculptures. Instead of long biographical notes the text boards in each room reproduce quotes from the artist expressing his philosophy of art. It is a beautifully lit exhibition that offers a wide selection of works that come from the artist's most brilliant period of activity (1960 -1980). The sculpture dominates and is far more interesting to look at than the paintings. 
Miró was a master of recycling 'objets trouvés'.  A farmyard milking stool is painted black and upended to become the torso of a figure with bronze brightly painted limbs. The vocabulary is wholly Spanish as he incorporates the form of the bull horn in countless works ('Bull's Head', 1970 etc.) and utensils lifted straight from a peasant's kitchen.
Miró also borrowed forms directly from nature, taking a turtle's shell and exposing the ribbed interior in one sculpture, he later made a bronze mold for a work where the entire shell becomes the body of a surrealistic alien creature. For another piece Miró took a simple gourd and painted it car metal red hence effecting the metamorphosis of a timeless natural form into one that evokes twentieth century industrial technology.
Endlessly inventive and aware of the spiritual power primitive totemic images can radiate Miró studied the art of ancient cultures and adapted them to speak to his contemporaries. Even more than Picasso in the 1960's, Miró was interested in simplifying forms and imbuing them with a eloquently naive personality. 
This exhibition is light, colourful and uplifting. It is one of those rare art shows that children should be taken to and which they actually might enjoy. This is not to suggest that Miró is unsophisticated or fails to be intellectually stimulating. On the contrary, it points to his unerring genius at cutting across intellectual parameters to establish an immediate and lasting impression upon our senses.
http://www.bcn.fjmiro.es

ARTNewspaper

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Subject: The Drawings of Annibale Carracci

WASHINGTON D.C. January 8, 2000 - The first monographic exhibition of Annibale Carracci(1560-1609), one of the greatest draftsmen of all time, celebrates his naturalism, imagination, and wide range of subjects. Among ninety-five of the masteres best drawings will be grand compositions, quick jottings, individual figure studies, landscapes, and genre scenes. The centerpiece of the exhibition will be a spectacular full-scale, eleven-foot-square cartoon for the painting The Triumph of Bacchus and Ariadne from Carraccies most important commission, the decoration of the Farnese Gallery in Rome (1597-1600). The cartoon has never before been exhibited outside its home museum in Urbino, Italy. (From Sep. 26, 1999 To Jan. 9, 2000).
http://www.nga.gov

National Gallery of Art - Washington D.C.

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Subject: Rome in the 18th Century

PHILADELPHIA Pennsylvania January 11, 2000 - Throughout the 18th century, the city of Rome--with its antiquities, Renaissance and Baroque monuments, and cosmopolitan spirit--was the artistic and cultural capital of Europe. This was the Rome of the Trevi Fountain and the Spanish Steps, the Rome of carnivals and papal ceremonies, the Rome that Piranesi depicted in his celebrated prints--a mecca for amateur, student and professional artists from throughout the Western world. Never attempted on this scale in the United States, this survey of 18th-century Rome will reveal the rich vitality of the city's artistic and cultural life toward the end of its existence as an independent papal state (in 1871, Rome became the political seat of newly united Italy). The Splendor of Rome will include a spectacular array of paintings, sculpture, works on paper, decorative arts, architectural renderings and models-some 380 works of art by more than 160 artists.
Painters who studied or worked in the city during the 18th century-including such luminaries as Germany's Anton Raphael Mengs, the Frenchmen Jean-Honoré Fragonard, Hubert Robert and Jacques-Louis David, and Angelica Kauffman of Switzerland-comprise a diverse and surprisingly international group united by the strength and precedent of Roman culture, and nurtured by enlightened secular and ecclesiastical patronage. Similarly, Roman sculpture of the period-created by masters such as the Frenchman Pierre Legros the Younger, Camillo Rusconi, Pietro Bracci, Clodion, Jean-Antoine Houdon, and Bartolomeo Cavaceppi-was the product of cosmopolitan influences. Related changes in architectural style can be followed from the stately Baroque classicism exemplified by Carlo Maderno, through the exuberant theatricality of the Spanish Steps and the Trevi Fountain, to the austere and refined neoclassicism dominant at the century's end.
Drawing was an essential component of printmaking as well as painting, architecture and sculpture, and Rome's public and private academies produced draftsmen of astounding proficiency. The Splendor of Rome highlights their accomplishments in some 100 examples. Works by Giovanni Battista Piranesi are especially familiar to contemporary audiences, and the exhibition will devote an entire section to drawings, prints, books, buildings and decorative designs by this prodigiously talented artist. (From March 16, 2000 To May 21, 2000).
http://www.philamuseum.org

Philadelphia Museum of Art

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

Subject: When in Italy, live like the Italians:
drink reasonably priced wine

VENICE, Italy January 6, 2000 - WALK into nearly any bar in this romantic city and you'll find affordable wine by the glass.
Wine is inextricably linked to the culinary culture of Italy. It's not a beverage of luxury. It's a part of everyday life, an integral part of meals and even, in small quantities, a midday pick-me-up.
We stopped by a tiny bar -- no tables, just room for half a dozen people to stand -- at the Rialto Market late one morning, and there was a steady stream of produce sellers and other workers who stopped by for a small (about two ounces) glass of vino rosso or vino bianco, or perhaps an espresso, often accompanied by small snacks. A glass of wine was less than a dollar. When was the last time you found a wine, even jug wine, for less than a buck in a U.S. bar?
Prices aren't much higher in many wine bars or restaurants. We visited a wine bar in Verona where generous glasses of Italian and imported wines -- not the generic stuff -- were less than $3.50. We drank Italian wines, but a glass of 1996 Meridian Merlot was just $2.75! I suspect that if you found that wine in a bar or restaurant in California, the tab would be closer to $5 or $6.
As you might imagine based on these examples, Americans who visit Italy are likely to be pleasantly surprised at Italian wine prices, both in restaurants and in stores. Familiar names from Tuscany, Piedmont and elsewhere are much less expensive in Italy than in the United States. (In France, by contrast, there's not much savings on the top French wines because of the way prices are set.)
One example that really struck me: We were having dinner at the Fiaschetteria Toscana in Venice, a moderate-to-expensive place with an extensive wine list, and found Antinori's Tignanello, a cabernet-sangiovese blend, for about $50. That's about what it retails for in California, and far less than it costs in most restaurants. There were also plenty of wines, especially regional ones, on the list for less than $15.
At these low prices, it's tempting to drink something with a familiar name -- perhaps one of the ``super Tuscan'' blends or a Barolo from a well-known producer. But don't overlook the wines of the region you're in. In most parts of Italy, the cuisine and the wines have evolved together, and you'll find that they complement each other.
In Tuscany, for example, the sangiovese-based wines, such as Chianti Classico and Brunello di Montalcino, are perfect with that area's hearty foods. And I can think of few combinations better than Barolo and white truffles, two of Piedmont's treasures.
Two other typical wines of the region Veneto are prosecco and amarone. Prosecco -- light, fruity and sparkling -- is sold nearly everywhere. We drank it as an aperitif as well as for a little midday refreshment. It's usually inexpensive -- not more than $2 a glass -- so you don't have to worry too much about labels or producers.
Amarone is more expensive, more serious. It's a powerful red wine from the Valpolicella area made from grapes that are dried on mats for several months after harvest. A good place to try amarone is the Bottega del Vino in Verona. The owner, Severino Barzan, is an amarone fanatic, and he carries amarones from several producers and numerous vintages.
We drank lots of regional wines, primarily Barolo and Barbaresco, in Piedmont, too, and the prices were usually under $50 in restaurants (Gaja excepted; it was extremely expensive everywhere). But that's another story.
http://www.cal-italia.org
http://www.winetoday.com

Laurie Daniel

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Subject: At Lisner, Music Italian Style

WASHINGTON D.C. January 12, 2000 - The music most identified with Italy is opera, and "Italia in Musica," Sunday's program at Lisner Auditorium, was made up mostly of selections sung by eight members of the Opera Camerata of Washington under the direction of Micaele Sparacino. But the world's best violins also come from Italy, and the piano was invented by an Italian, Bartolomeo Cristofori, who merged two words to name it: "pianoforte," or "softloud."
So the program began with a violinist, 12-year-old Brendan Conway, playing Antonio Bazzini's awesomely difficult "Scherzo Fantastico" with verve, technical skill and obvious enjoyment. And it ended with some brilliant playing by Italian pianist Rosario Mastroserio, who began with Italian music (a sonata by Domenico Scarlatti), but went on to Mussorgsky's "Pictures at an Exhibition" (Italianized in the program listing to "Quadri di un'esposizione") and ended with two pieces by Astor Piazzolla. Mastroserio is a complete master of his instrument and of the music's three contrasting styles; his Mussorgsky was notable for grasp of the music's pictorial elements and contrasts and for the sheer power of its slam-bang finale.
The opera selections, except for arias by Verdi and the verismo composer Francesco Cilea, were all bel canto--a specialty of the Opera Camerata. The eight singers--sopranos Raya Gonen and Marje Palmieri, mezzo-sopranos Maria di Stefano and Tatyana Ishemova, tenors Christopher Petrucelli and Daniel Snyder, baritone Darryl Winston and bass Eugene Galvin--are all well versed in the style and sang impressively in their solos and the two ensembles, the quartet from "Rigoletto" and the sextet from "Lucia."
The audience was an unusually congenial group, perhaps because this was a benefit for the scholarship fund of the Italian Cultural Society of Washington, and we sounded collectively great in a sing-along performance of Verdi's great chorus "Va, pensiero."
http://gwis.circ.gwu.edu/~lisner

Joseph McLellan

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Subject: A new and exciting Italian restaurant in London

LONDON January 14, 2000 - "Forget all the fashionable joints in Town. Go to Il Convivio, do not pass Go".
This is a brand new and super restaurant challenging five well known top end Italian restaurants within half a mile. That takes courage. There is no contest with three of them and the other two are different enough not to detract from Il Convivio.
The premises used to be a very good French restaurant, so many people will be familiar with the site but not with the new rooms which defy recognition. The decor is bright clean modern and has a very comfortable feel. The staff are tip top offering excellent service. The sommelier is pretty, yes she is a woman and very talented, one of only two women in London who practice the skills of wine and her combinations. Her name is Luciana Mosca, remember it as she will go far as will this restaurant.
The owners are also Italian, Enzo and Piero Quaradeghini who own seven other place which I can't wait to visit if they are a patch on Il Convivio.
OK I may be boring you as the real purpose of the exercise is to talk about the food.
I started with Animelle Sbricciolate Calde con Fungi e Parmigiano. It was simply delicious. The sweetbreads combine brilliantly with the wild mushrooms and are complimented by the parmigiano which was fried into 'crackling'. The sauce was rich but not heavy. The whole is a dish to eat at every visit.
Sometimes there is no where to go on a menu after a the starter, not so here. The decision time taken to choose the main course was considerable. Eventually I went for the Piccione Nostrano Arrostito su Polenta, Cipolle e More. The pot roast Tuscan pigeon was served with soft polenta and a blackberry and onion sauce. The meat was sweet, pink and succulent, a really splendid dish.
Pudding, well you don't often find me talking about puds, but here you must have the Gelato di Espresso Bianco. That is an order, no shirking in the ranks. This is a brilliant dish, vanilla ice cream which tastes just like espresso coffee. I tried to pry the recipe from Lukas Pfaff, the head chef but he would not take a bribe. Even after I had kicked his shins he kept his secret and I don't blame him.
I will return for the delicious and delightful food.
Il Convivio, 143 Ebury Street, London SW1
Telephone 0207 730 4099-- fax 0207 730 4103

Wine & Dine

 

 

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