Arlecchino Newsletter

Vol. 3 Issue n. 01
January 03, 2001

~~~      A free bi-weekly newsletter of 204 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. 3, issue #01, January 03, 2001

Dear friends,

Have a nice reading, hoping to find you again at our next issue ... puff! puff! ... pant! pant!

Your tireless moderator,

Marco Piazzalunga


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

1) Restoration of 'Moses' gets online audience
    by Paul Sussman

2) Renoir, Picasso Pieces Head to U.S.
    by Associated Press Information Services

New Topics on Italian style (2)

1) Fashion & Design Portraits: Romeo Gigli & Mario Bellini
    by Dolcevita

2) Beringer Wine Estates Purchases Castello di Gabbiano in Tuscany
    by Business Wire

New Topics on Italian handicraft works of art (2)

1) Alfieri & St. John Continues to Evolve
    by International jeweler

2) Designing Glass Objects
    by Paolo Frello

New Topics on Italian/European antique & collectibles (2)

1) Perfume bottles (18th & 19th Century)
    by Isobel Ward

2) Baxter prints
    by Godfrey Omer-Parsons

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

Subject: Restoration of 'Moses' gets online audience

LONDON, December 16, 2000 - Perhaps the only thing more boring than watching paint dry is watching transparent cleaning fluid doing the same.
At first glance, therefore,, a new Italian Web site allowing users to log on 24 hours a day to watch cleaners remove grime from a large piece of marble is not something to immediately stir the imagination.
When you realize that the piece of marble is in fact Michelangelo's "Moses," however, one of the great masterpieces of Renaissance art, the whole thing becomes rather more interesting.
In January, a nine-month restoration program is being launched to clean and conserve the statue, which forms part of the tomb of Pope Julius II (1443-1513) in the church of San Pietro in Vincoli, near Rome's Colosseum.
The 740-million-lire project ($322,263), which is being funded by the Italian lottery company Lottomatica and carried out by Antonio Forcellino, one of Italy's foremost restorers, will seek to relieve the statue of almost five centuries of dirt, as well as moving it forward slightly to allow experts to examine its back.
Special transparent scaffolding will be used so visitors to San Pietro will still be able to view the statue, while a live video link will allow Web users worldwide to chart the progress of the work from the comfort of their own homes.
"We don't just want to clean and restore the monument," says Gabriella Mostovicz of Lottomatica, "We want to make it even more well known than it already is.
"People will be able to follow the whole process of restoration minute by minute and day by day. It's a way of letting them feel a part of it."
Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475-1564) created his "Moses" between 1514-1516.
Carved from Carrara marble, it was originally intended to be just one of some 40 statues adorning the tomb of his patron, Pope Julius II.
Although he worked on the tomb for the best part of four decades, however, political upheavals and commissions for other works meant that he only ever completed three of the statues: "Moses" and, to either side of it, "Leah" and "Rachel."
"Although the tomb you see now is a very reduced version of what was originally planned," says John Larson, Britain's leading conservator, "'Moses' is still one of the world's great pieces of art.
"It's a very innovative sculpture, not just in its size, which was unusual for that period, but also in the rendering of the prophet himself. It's a very characterful study. The expression on his face is very strong and powerful."
The statue is already a major tourist attraction, with up to 4,000 people visiting it daily (part of its spectacular beard has been worn away by centuries of touching by Jewish pilgrims).

Paul Sussman


Subject: Renoir, Picasso Pieces Head to U.S.

FORT WORTH, Texas, November 30, 2000 - A significant collection of Impressionist and early modern paintings that has never been outside Paris is on display at the Kimbell Art Museum, the only venue in the United States during an international tour.
``From Renoir to Picasso: Masterpieces From the Musee de l'Orangerie,'' an exhibit of 81 works, is traveling while its permanent home, next to the Louvre, is being renovated. It has been shown in Japan, Taiwan and Canada, and the next stop is Australia.
``It's one of the richest collections of early modern art imaginable,'' says Charles Stuckey, Kimbell's senior curator.
The show has been described as a near-perfect reflection of the Post-Impressionist trends in France in the early 20th century, when European artists made the transition to diverse new forms. Noted pieces include Pierre-Auguste Renoir's ``Young Girls at the Piano'' and ``Bather With Long Hair'' and Paul Cezanne's ``Apples and Biscuits'' and ``The Red Rock.''
The exhibit also features works by some of the most important painters to emerge in France in the first decade of the 1900s: Henri Matisse, with ``The Three Sisters'' and ``Odalisque in Red Trousers''; Pablo Picasso, with ``Large Bather'' and ``Large Still Life''; and Andre Derain, with ``Harlequin and Pierrot,'' ``Portrait of Paul Guillaume'' and others.
The collection includes paintings by Henri Rousseau, Amedeo Modigliani, Chaim Soutine, Marie Laurencin and Maurice Utrillo.
``There are a lot of people in the exhibit who aren't necessarily everybody's favorites,'' Stuckey says. ``I think there are a lot of surprises.''
Most of the show comes from the collection of the late Paris art dealer Paul Guillaume, a visionary who helped many American art museums and collectors acquire French masterpieces in the 1920s.
Guillaume focused on African sculpture when he started as a broker in 1914 and opened a small gallery. He collected pieces by most of the major French painters of the day, using perception and bold judgment that also helped promote modern art in France and abroad. Guillaume was among the first to exhibit works by Matisse and Picasso when he put them on show in 1918.
Guillaume also was a broker for Albert C. Barnes, whose collection in Philadelphia is considered one of the best of its kind in the world.
In 1994, the Kimbell and a few other museums showed the seldom-seen Barnes Collection, one of the most anticipated exhibitions in U.S. history. That helped the Kimbell become the only museum in the United States to display Guillaume's collection, considered a sequel to the Barnes pieces, Stuckey says. ``From Renoir to Picasso'' runs through Feb. 25.

Associated Press Information Services

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

Subject: Fashion & Design Portraits: Romeo Gigli & Mario Bellini

MILAN, Italy, December 18, 2000 - Italian fashion designer Romeo Gigli was born in Castelbolognese, in the Faenza province. He studied classics and went on to the Università di Architettura. During his student days, Gigli made his first trips abroad, always returning with small objects, jewelry or clothing as gifts.
Over time, his interest in designs applied to textiles grew into a passion. In 1979, he established himself in New York, where he worked in the atelier of Dimitri, learning the fine points of tailoring and style. Upon returning to Italy, his ideas of fashion began to take shape.
Even his earliest collections indicated Gigli had chosen a highly original style, far from any cliché of the day. In the 1980's, for example, when shoulder pads worthy of a linebacker were all the rage, Romeo Gigli was showing smooth shoulder lines, unenhanced by padding. These early models were a prelude to the natural look that would characterize his work in the future.
Among his many design projects, Mario Bellini was engaged by Olivetti, B&B Italia, Cassina, Brionvega and Yamaha. In addition, he was commissioned by the auto industry as a designer by both Fiat and Lancia. Artemide, Erco, and Flos, in the sector lamps and lighting, all employed the young designer, as well as Vitra, a high-profile name in office furnishings.
Bellini, together with friends Gae Aulenti, Gio Ponti and several other artists, contributed greatly to the revival of international interest in Italian design. In 1987, the MOMA in New York honored Bellini with a single-artist exhibition, the only one of its kind to be dedicated to a living individual. His works still comprise part of the museum's permanent collection, some 25 years after they were first presented.

Dolcevita (Milan)


Subject: Beringer Wine Estates Purchases Castello di Gabbiano in Tuscany

NAPA, California, December 20, 2000 - Beringer Wine Estates today announced it has signed an agreement to purchase Castello di Gabbiano from its current owners, Rino and Raynelle Arcaini. Included in the sale of this 900 year-old Tuscan wine estate is the historic Castello (castle) and surrounding property, which includes guest cottages, an ancient wine cellar, a modern winery, and 254 acres of land. One hundred and twenty acres are planted in vines, including Sangiovese, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon. Beringer Wine Estates, which has imported Gabbiano wines into the U.S. since 1994, also announced it has purchased "Cerbaiola," a fifty-seven acre property located in Chianti Classico, about ten miles from Castello di Gabbiano. Currently, there are fifteen acres of vineyard planted to Sangiovese, with plans to plant another ten acres in the future. Terms of the agreements are not being disclosed.
"Castello di Gabbiano is one of the oldest winemaking estates in a highly regarded growing region with a very long and rich tradition of wine production," commented Beringer Wine Estates Chairman and CEO Walt Klenz. "Italian imports are enjoying tremendous success in the U.S., and as our relationship with the Arcainis evolved, purchasing the Castello seemed like a natural progression from importers to guardians of the property."
Giancarlo Roman will remain as winemaker at Castello di Gabbiano; Ed Sbragia, winemaster for Napa Valley's Beringer Vineyards and son of an Italian (Lucca) immigrant family, will continue to work closely with Roman as he has done for the last several years.
Castello di Gabbiano, in the San Casciano Val di Pesa commune of Italy's Chianti Classico zone, dates back to 1100 AD when the prominent Bardi family of Florence built a defense tower to protect the important trade route between Siena and Florence. In 1124, they began construction of the wine cellar. In 1408, when the Bardi's fortunes suffered, they sold the Castello to the powerful Soderini family of Florence.
Beringer Wine Estates, a division of Foster's Brewing Group of Australia, owns six award-winning California wineries including Beringer Vineyards, Chateau St. Jean, Chateau Souverain, Meridian Vineyards, Stags' Leap Winery, and St. Clement Vineyards. The wine company owns or controls over 10,200 acres of vineyard land, all in the coastal regions of California.

Business Wire

------=====(* ITALIAN HANDICRAFT WORKS OF ART *)=====------

Subject: Alfieri & St. John Continues to Evolve

ROME, December 18, 2000 - Alfieri & St John is a name symbolic with harmony between tradition and fashion. Every jewel they create is crafted with traditional care and precision and at the same time the designs have great fantasy and are projected towards fashion.
The company lead the way last year with their "Shoe Collection", which proved to be a winner with its selection of precious pendants in yellow and white gold with diamonds and semi precious stones such as coral, jade, onyx and rock crystal. The collection was both versatile and original.
This year at the Basel show, the company revealed many stunning jewels from rings to necklaces. One of their themes was a more geometric look as seen in their necklace Squares. This necklace comes in white gold fully studded with pavé diamonds but given a new edge by the structured graphic look.

International jeweler


Subject: Designing Glass Objects

MILAN, Italy, January 01, 2001 - Glassworking in Italy still adheres to a long tradition of artisanry. This highly variable material has continually spurred designers and architects on to develop shapes and forms both unusual and full of fantasy.
The material which perhaps allows designers the greatest freedom of expression is glass, due to is versatility. A natural product, glass consists primarily of the mineral silicon. The majority of glass objects produced today are the result of centuries-old glass-blowing techniques and traditional craftsmanship.
Glass in Architecture: the use of glass in architecture has radically altered the course of modern architecture (beginning with the Modernism of the 20's and continuing through the present). Masters in the field such as Mies Van der Rohe and Gropius, Philip Johnson and I.M. Pei each polished their architectural eloquence through the expressive quality of this versatile material.
To a lesser degree, a similar chain of developments can be traced in design. The "Ghost" armchair, created by Cini Boeri for Fiamm in the 1980's, could be used to "date" the use of glass in furnishings. Surprisingly enough, this chair, constructed of a single sheet of chrystal, is both comfortable and stackable. Another designer worthy of mention is David Palterer, Israeli by birth but trained in Italy. Palterer has devoted most of his professional and creative energies to the production of glass objects, many of them truly masterpieces. The undisputed champion of the field remains Roberto Sambonet who made his mark with designs such as his "Vaso a Sfera" in 1955, the "TIR bar" glasses inspired by organ pipes produced by Baccarat and a set of stackable glasses "Empilage", both introduced in 1971.
Italian glass: any mention of Italian glass immediately brings to mind the renowned glassmaking enterprises of Murano and the Fratelli Bormioli in Carcare in Liguria, but we mustn't forget others which have greatly contributed to the diversified use of glass. One such company, is the architectural firm Focchi in Rimini, which is one of the few companies world-wide to realize the construction of several uniquely sculpted skyscrapers by the gentle and gradual curvature of each individual sheet of glass used.

Paolo Frello


Subject: Perfume bottles (18th & 19th Century)

LONDON, January 02, 2001 - Over recent years scent bottles have become highly desirable. Not surprisingly the finer quality and rarer bottles attract the highest prices but no collection is complete without the more run of the mill variety.
The keen auction buff might find the occasional miniature 19th century scent bottle 'thrown-in' as part of a lot. However, even these tiny but charming bottles can be worth up to £100.
Also widely available are bottles made during the latter part of the 19th century in Venice. In a recent auction a foiled glass example decorated with stars (left) fetched £160. Those depicting faces and birds, often hidden amongst the colourful glass work, also command relatively high prices ­ despite the frequently unimpressive brass mounts.
Cut-glass upright and double-ended bottles, made in England and Bohemia in the 19th century, regularly feature in auctions of small collectable items. They can be found in a range of colours, sometimes overlaid with a contrasting layer of glass. Examples still found in their fitted case, and preferably stamped with the name of a well known manufacturer such as S. Mordan & Co, are more desirable. While those set with vinaigrettes to the base of the bottle or with interesting mounts will obviously command much higher prices.
Moving up the price scale, French enamelled scent bottles made in the early to middle part of the 19th century reflect the finer and more exquisite taste typical of that country. The early 19th century scent flask illustrated on the cover of this magazine is mounted in gold and set with split pearls. A collector would have to pay £2,500-3,000 for the privilege of adding this gem to their collection.
Other more expensive bottles include those made at Meissen during the 18th century. These finely and romantically decorated bottles, which so often depict scenes of courting couples, can fetch as much as £1,300.
Later, in 19th century Austro-Hungary, scent bottles made of semi-precious stones mounted with rich gold chasing and set with rubies, diamonds and other jewels were commissioned by the wealthy and the aristocracy to reflect their good fortune and establish their status. The opulence of the period resulted in an abundance of such toys and accessories for the rich, and it is a collector's dream to possess at least one scent bottle of this quality.
As the number of perfume bottle enthusiasts grows it becomes harder than ever to hunt out the rarer examples. But don't be disheartened. Any collector will tell you that if you look hard enough, you will still find the more unusual bottles. They are a delight to handle and make a fabulous display in any cabinet.

Isobel Ward


Subject: Baxter prints

LONDON, December 30, 2000 - George Baxter (1804-1867) was a key figure in the development of colour printing. Following his first attempt to produced a picture 'engraved and printed in oil colours' (Butterflies, 1829), he continued to improve and refine his method and was granted a patent in 1835.
The first stage of Baxter's complex process was to engrave the complete picture on a sheet of soft steel, the 'key plate'. As many as twenty wooden blocks were then cut, one for each colour in the picture.
The key plate would be printed first followed by each colour block in turn, allowing drying time between each. This was a time consuming process requiring great care to ensure that the blocks were perfectly aligned. The ink used was oil-based, rather than water-based, thus creating great depth of colour. And areas of the print could be further enriched by means of a special glazing technique.
Baxter produced more than 350 prints before retiring in 1860. The range of subjects is vast but two favourite themes were the Royal Family and the Great Exhibition of 1851.
Prints were clearly printed with a distinctive seal from 1847 onwards. Prior to this date a few lines of type were used giving his name and the title of the work, either printed within the image or beneath it.
Baxter sold licences to a handful of other printers who made prints, of variable quality, using his technique. Abraham Le Blond, probably the best known of the licensees, produced a series of oval prints of Victorian scenes, now highly sought after.
In broad terms, the majority of Baxters fetch around £40 or £50. Very large prints might be £200+, with a few very rare ones at £1,000 or more. Le Blond ovals fetch £100­200. Condition is paramount.

Godfrey Omer-Parsons

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