Issue n. 09
May 02, 2001
~~~ ARLECCHINO NEWSLETTER
~~~ A free bi-weekly newsletter of 263 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
~~~ Vol. 3, issue #09, May 02, 2001
IN THIS ISSUE
New Topics on Fine Arts in Italy/Europe (2)
1) How Canaletto Found His Way (Cini Foundation)
by Roderick Conway Morris
2) Degrees online in Italian art, culture and language
by Monrif Net
New Topics on Italian style (2)
1) May is the month of music in Florence
by Il Giorno
2) Art and Fashion
by Alice Carlon
New Topics on Italian handicraft works of art (2)
1) Caltagirone, town of ceramics in Sicily
by Ceramics Online
2) Florence: exhibition dedicated to 20th-Century jewels
by Manuela Cardinetti
New Topics on Italian/European antique & collectibles (2)
1) US-Italy treaty against antiquities smuggling
by Cristina Ruiz
2) Amazing Majolica
by Pamela Wiggins
-----====(* FINE ARTS IN ITALY & EUROPE *)====-----
Subject: How Canaletto Found His Way (Cini Foundation)
VENICE, Italy, April 30, 2001 - For many artists a visit to Rome has been a revelation,
but for Canaletto it marked a complete change of course for a painter who might otherwise
be remembered only as an obscure footnote in theatrical history.
He went there in 1719 with his father, Bernardo Canal, a theatrical scene painter, to
prepare sets for two Alessandro Scarlatti pieces that were to be presented in the Carnival
of 1720. But Canaletto ("Little Canal") also found time to sketch views of the
city and its ancient monuments. In so doing he discovered his real metier, and on
returning to Venice presently abandoned the security of the family business and struck out
on his own as a painter of his native city.
The first decade of Canaletto's activity as an independent artist is now unfolded in an
illuminating and elegantly presented show, "Canaletto: The Early Works," at the
Cini Foundation on the island of San Giorgio Maggiore, where more than 100 paintings and
drawings from some 30 collections will remain on display until June 10.
Already in his early twenties, Canaletto came relatively late to view-painting and was
essentially self-taught in it - a reason why, as Hugo Chapman points out in his excellent
short essay in the catalogue, some works that now seem indubitably to be by Canaletto were
previously disputed on account of their technical shortcomings.
Even in the early Rome drawings, certain characteristics emerge that were to become
abiding features of the artist's work. The use of small figures, for example, not merely
as decorative devices but as players of intriguing, incidental, miniature social comedies
is already established, as is a willingness to deviate from strict topographical accuracy
to enhance the picturesque. And, of course, he was to make lifelong use of his spell in
Rome not only in views of the city he painted long after his visit, but also in his
"capricci," or imaginary views, many of which contain ancient ruins.
Canaletto seems to have had a clear idea of the kind of pictures he wanted to paint from
very early on, after which it was primarily a question of adapting his considerable innate
gifts, through trial and error, to realize his vision on canvas. In both his early drawing
and painting he showed an unusual control over both large architectural structures and
minute detail, but was constantly experimenting with broader, more flamboyant brushstrokes
to energize his scenes with immediacy and life. A brilliant example of his determination
to capture vibrancy and shimmer through virtuoso brushwork is provided by a wonderful pair
of canvases from the Pushkin Museum in Moscow, of two views over the lagoon, painted with
tremendous energy and panache and suffused with a bold luminosity that is almost
Roderick Conway Morris
Subject: Degrees online in Italian art, culture and language
ROME, Italy, April 28, 2001 - The first of its kind here in Italy, an online course is
being offered to foreign students in art, culture and language.
A new means of getting a university degree embarks on the Internet. It is the arrival of
the online degree in Italian language and culture for foreigners. All it takes is an
automatic application by November 2001 on the site www.italicon.it and the courses have
This new degree has been accredited and reaches the standards of the Italian university
system. The initiative for this degree was by the university consortium ICON (Italian
Culture on the Net) and the state ministers of education. The course is available to all
students residing outside of Italy. Evaluations and grades will all be done via Internet
with help from a variety of professors and tutors. The students must successfully finish
the 180 credits required.
ICON is an organization created to promote Italian language and culture and they hope to
do just this with the new courses online. A digital library has also been created,
containing over 1,200 works, as well as a virtual museum and an encyclopaedia. Luciano
Guerzioni, an organizer of the site claims the site "is a new portal of Italian
culture that reaches a global level. It is a formidable instrument of diffusion."
Guerzoni also pointed that this program is the first of its kind to come out of the
inter-European learning projects.
This project also comes at a moment of major education reforms in Italy. And promoters of
these reforms hope to display this as one of the examples of what could be in store for
the rest of system.
-------=======(* ITALIAN STYLE *)=======-------
Subject: May is the month of music in Florence
FLORENCE, Italy, April 29, 2001 - Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, the world-renowned classical
music event, begins this weekend with the opera 'Il Trovatore', in honor of the great
composer Giuseppe Verdi.
The president of the Republic, Carlo Azelio Ciampi, will be present at the inauguration of
the 64th annual Maggio Musicale Fiorentino on Sunday May 6 to enjoy the opening piece 'Il
Trovatore' by Giuseppe Verdi. The opera was chosen to remember the 100-year anniversary of
Verdi's death. And, directed by Zubin Mehta, it promises to be quite a spectacle.
The Maggio Musicale Fiorentino is a month of classical operas and concerts performed by
some of the top directors and musicians in the world - and it is always a well-received
event. In fact, all five of the scheduled performances of 'Il Trovatore' sold out as soon
as box offices opened a month ago.
Head musical director of the event is the celebrated Zubin Mehta, music director at the
Bavarian State opera in Munich and life director for the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra. He
has also conducted for the Vienna and Berlin Philharmonics. From 1961 to 1967 he was Music
Director of the Montreal Symphony. And, from 1962 to 1978, he was appointed Music Director
of the Los Angeles Philharmonic.
Other concerts include operas by Handel and concerts by the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra.
The event will last throughout the month of May and into June. The final concert will be
held outdoors in the breathtaking Piazza di Santa Croce on Saturday, June 30, and prices,
at least for this show, will be very economical.
Subject: Art and Fashion
MILAN, Italy, April 23, 2001 - Now that clothing is practically walking sculpture, fabrics
rustling canvases and accessories indispensable finishing touches, it's obvious that
fashion is rapidly approaching the level of art, and drawing increasingly upon art for its
inspiration. As in art, there are brilliant single strokes of creativity, frequent breaks
with established norms and inspired experiments with materials diverted from other
sectors. Like art, the effect is equally astounding, equally provocative. Fashion and the
evolution of style have become social and cultural phenomenon which command a great deal
of interest and study.
Giorgio Armani, one of this century's fashion icons, is the subject of a current
exhibition hosted by NYC's Guggenheim Museum , while Gianni Versace's prematurely
interrupted career is spotlighted in Sydney, at an exhibition first presented at the Moma.
Bulgari, whose has been name historically linked with the work of master artisans is to
present its latest watch within the context of a recent exhibition dedicated to art of the
But fashion is not solely about exhibitionism: quite often the industry is working busily
behind the scenes as promoter, producer and executor of a variety of events. To this end,
both the Fondazione Prada and the Spazio Krizia were founded. Both organizations provide a
forum for young artists to introduce new means of creative expressions and innovative
Bulgari, has always actively supported the preservation of artistic traditions and is
currently involved in an initiative to benefit the city of Florence as the sponsor of
various artistic and cultural events.
And it's unforgettable the "Shoemaker of the Stars", Salvatore Ferragamo, who
decided to return to Italy to open his atelier in Palazzo Spini Feroni in Florence, but
did not renounce his adoring clientele.
The costume gallery of the Palazzo Pitti in Florence is to reopen its doors with an
exceptional gesture: an exposition of sixty-six completely accessorized ensembles donated
by designer Gianfranco Ferré.
This particular event is part of a larger project, which involves a series of donations to
public service organizations and museums.
------=====(* ITALIAN HANDICRAFT WORKS OF ART *)=====------
Subject: Caltagirone, town of ceramics in Sicily
CALTAGIRONE, Italy, April 27, 2001 - Archaeological remains from the prehistoric age
certify the presence of a built-up area already in the bronze age. The area was Hellenized
between the seventh and the sixth century BC, and continued to live under the rule of the
Romans, Byzantine and Arabs. At the time of the Arab rule, the town was given the present
name, which indicates that the town was by its nature a -jar fortress-, for its ceramics
In 1090 the town gave itself up to Count Ruggero the Norman, who, for gratitude, granted
the town a long series of feudal concessions and privileges that made it prosper and
become wealthy during all the Middle Ages and up to the seventeenth century.
It was a magnificent town for its prestige and wealth, until it was destroyed by an
earthquake in 1693, but it rose again and thanks to its aristocratic elegance, excited
travellers admiration in the eighteenth and nineteenth century.
In the twentieth century it remained an important and singular town, a significant
laboratory of interesting political experiences of national relevance.
Situated on a hill of the Ereo-Hyblaean range, Caltagirone dominates the large and fertile
plains of Gela and Catania and gives an image of wealth, with its untouched architecture
and town plan and with all its monuments and palaces that remind of the old splendour.
In the heart of the old town centre, there are the squares Municipio and Umberto I, once
called -Della Loggia- and -Malfitania-, from which the beautiful stairs -Scala di Santa
Maria del Monte-, Via Luigi Sturzo, Via Vittorio Emanuele and Via Roma lead off, all of
them dating back to the Renaissance. From the square also the close net of the winding
-carruggi- leads off.
From March to September, the Town organizes important events and exhibitions characterised
by cultural, historical, artistic and religious elements.
At Easter, the -Passion- and the -Giunta- are performed, attracting tourists
attention and the participation of all the citizens. In May the Stairs of Santa Maria del
Monte are covered with a coloured tapestry of plants and flowers in honour of the Madonna
di Condomini and the stairs become a stage for the International fashion show: -Ceramics,
flowers and fashion-. In July, in honour of San Giacomo, the patron saint of the town, the
stairs are illuminated, according to a centuries-old tradition, by hundreds of coloured
oil lamps that every year form a different glowing shape. Finally, at Christmas,
Caltagirone becomes the town of cribs, with dozens of exhibitions of handmade articles,
made by the famous local ceramists and by masters coming from all over the world.
Subject: Florence: exhibition dedicated to 20th-Century jewels
FLORENCE, Italy, April 24, 2001 - For the first time ever in Italy, the public is invited
to view a unique collection of jewellery: over 300 pieces created by creative masters such
as Picasso and Lalique to Tiffany and Bulgari.
Exhibited in the splendid rooms of the Museo degli Argenti in the Palazzo Pitti, these
miniature works of art recount the artistic history of an era full of variation and
creative impulse, from revolutionary and inspired art nouveau pieces born at the turn of
the century to more daring contemporary flights of fancy.
The exhibition marks important steps along the way by which an art form has developed its
own identity and autonomy of expression through innovation, creativity, technique and the
incessant evaluation of design and new materials.
On display are some quite rare and extraordinary examples of jewellery which reflect the
tastes of their time and the essence of those who created them: the painters, the
sculptors and architects, the goldsmiths who transformed an ornament into a historical
artefact of the century so recently come to a close.
The jewels on exhibit at the Museo degli Argenti serve as a historical continuum, an
idealistic epilogue of sorts. The Florentine museum has included the precious collection
of Baroque and Renaissance jewellery which once belonged to Anna Maria Luisa, the last of
the Medici princesses. Several 19th and 20th century pieces have been added to the
original collection, including a diadem by Cartier in platinum, diamonds and amethysts
dating back to 1900.
-----===(* ITALIAN/EUROPEAN ANTIQUE & COLLECTIBLES *)===-----
Subject: US-Italy treaty against antiquities smuggling
LONDON, April 30, 2001 - The US has agreed to impose import restrictions on Italian
archeological material from the pre-classical, classical, and imperial periods in an
attempt to stem the flow of illicitly excavated works that regularly enter the US.
By all accounts, the US is one of the largest markets for stolen Italian artefacts, many
of which are first smuggled to Switzerland laundered with a false provenance and from
there exported to the US.
Italy is one of the worlds archaeological treasures and it behooves us all to
safeguard it, Dr Finn said in a statement. The areas particularly at risk were identified
as Sicily, southern Italy, and Etruscan sites in central Italy.
The agreement was reached in response to a 1999 request for import restrictions on
archaeological material from Italy, made under Article 9 of the Unesco Convention. The
terms of the original request were broad and included material from the fifth millennium
BC to the fifth century AD.
The request was reviewed by the Cultural Property Advisory Committee whose members are
appointed by the President and whose deliberations are private. The committee includes two
members who represent the interests of museums, three experts in archaeology,
anthropology, ethnology or related fields, three experts in the international sale of
cultural property, and three members representing the interests of the general public.
The final agreement states that the US shall restrict the importation of... archaeological
material ranging in date from approximately the ninth century BC to approximately the
fourth century AD, including categories of stone, metal, ceramic and glass artifacts, and
wall paintings... unless Italy issues a license or other documentation which certifies
that such exportation was not in violation of its laws.
US Customs regulations will now be amended to require that the listed artefacts not be
imported into the US unless accompanied by a valid export permit from Italy.
If an importer cannot produce the required evidence proving that the objects have been
exported legally, the works are to be taken into custody and, if the documentation is not
produced within the required time period, seized and forfeited to the US. They will then
be offered for return to Italy.
The agreement also stipulates that Italy shall use its best efforts to
increase...protective measures for archaeological excavations at known sites, particularly
in areas at greatest risk from looters. At the moment, most sites in Italy are completely
unguarded and tomb-robbers go about their business unhindered.
Subject: Amazing Majolica
NEW YORK, April 21, 2001 - Not long ago, a reader of my newspaper column came by the
office with an interesting bowl. He asked me if I knew anything about it and how much it
might be worth.
Looking on the back of the bowl, I discovered that it was majolica. I'd seen pieces of
this type of pottery from time-to-time in the antique malls where I've done business and
worked during the past 10 years, but never learned much about it.
Actually, I knew lots of majolica had been produced in Europe, it was a type of vividly
glazed pottery and some pretty convincing reproductions were floating around the antiques
marketplace, but that was basically it. I didn't own a book on this topic either, so I
decided to poke around on the Internet and a few of my general reference guides to see
what I could come up with to share.
In my quest for information, I learned that majolica is a type of soft earthenware ceramic
formed with plaster of paris molds. The first base coat of glaze is lead-based and then
brightly colored metal oxide glazes are applied on top. The ceramics then receive another
During the second firing, the glazes interact creating the rich colors majolica pieces
carry so well. These colors, and the unusual and varied objects they decorate, attract
collectors to this distinctive type of pottery with intensity.
The majolica most collected today, developed by ceramics expert Herbert Minton and chemist
Leon Arnoux, was shown to the public at the Great Exhibition in London in 1851. The
"new" Victorian art form actually represented a culmination of ceramic artistry
and glazing techniques spanning centuries according to Charles L. Washburne, a majolica
expert, in an Antiques Council article.
Many majolica artists looked to nature for inspiration. Ocean themes, farm animals, fruits
and exotically colored plant motifs all find a home within the decoration of these
earthenwares. Some majolica pieces, especially those depicting reptiles, sea life and
other types of living creatures can be remarkably realistic looking too.
Many pieces of majolica had no identifying marks. Some of the most notable English
majolica manufacturers that did mark their wares are Minton, Wedgwood, Holdcroft and
George Jones. Two of the most recognized American names are Griffin, Smith and Hill
(Etruscan) and Chesapeake Pottery. Pieces with these marks, especially the English
versions, can be quite expensive with some pieces selling in the thousands although most
list in the hundreds.
Majolica from the Victorian era is often found with crazing. Some pieces may even have
chips, cracks or repairs. Joyce Worley, the author of the article, notes that these types
of damage are common for the age of the pieces and don't have much bearing on the price.
I'm not sure if this is an accurate assessment.
All collectibles are more valuable if in pristine condition. The only exception to this
rule is with extremely rare examples.
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