sacred splendors at the museo degli argenti

Sacred Splendors exhibition at the Pitti Palace
Sacred Splendors exhibition at the Pitti Palace

Sacred Splendors

The Museo degli Argenti (Silver Museum) in the Pitti Palace in Florence has a pretty extensive historic and contemporary jewelry collection. On the ground floor in the splendid former Medici summer apartment of the Pitti Palace on the piano nobile, the museum also hold temporary exhibitions. Currently and through November 2, 2014, is the exhibition, Sacri Splendori: The Treasure of the ‘Chapel of Relics’ of the Palazzo Pitti showing an amazing and priceless collection of relics, reliquaries, and decorative sacred works of art by some of the best goldsmith masters of the 1700s.  This astonishing heritage, comprising almost one thousand items of incalculable worth, was dispersed from 1785 onwards. It owed its dispersal in part to its very magnificence: the gold, silver, precious stones and other valuable materials making up many of the reliquaries were used to replenish the coffers of the Grand Duchy of Lorraine, whose ruling house had become Tuscany’s new overlords after the death of Gian Gastone, the last Medici grand duke. Here are some of my favorite pieces:

(1) Single-decade rosary (XVI c.) turned and inlaid amber, silk. (2) Rosaries (XVII c.) Cast, filigree gold; opaque enamels; facetted jade. (3) Single-decade rosary (XVII c.) Chased, filigree gold with cast parts; gilded silver; facetted heliotrope. (4) Madonna and Child (1600 circa) turned and inlaid amber, ivory. (5) Ewer (XVII c.) turned and inlaid amber; gilded silver. (6) Heart-shaped pendant (XVII c.) turned and inlaid amber; cast and chased gold; opaque and translucent enamels; gilded, incised and painted glass. (7) Medallion reliquary (XVII c.) turned amber; cast and gilded silver; layer of vitreous paste.
(1) Single-decade rosary (XVI c.) turned and inlaid amber, silk. (2) Rosaries (XVII c.) Cast, filigree gold; opaque enamels; facetted jade. (3) Single-decade rosary (XVII c.) Chased, filigree gold with cast parts; gilded silver; facetted heliotrope. (4) Madonna and Child (1600 circa) turned and inlaid amber, ivory. (5) Ewer (XVII c.) turned and inlaid amber; gilded silver. (6) Heart-shaped pendant (XVII c.) turned and inlaid amber; cast and chased gold; opaque and translucent enamels; gilded, incised and painted glass. (7) Medallion reliquary (XVII c.) turned amber; cast and gilded silver; vitreous paste.
Triptych reliquary (1430-1440 c.) sent to Florence from Berlin in 1616, engraved, with relics of 30 saints and adorned with small silver figures.
Triptych reliquary (1430-1440 c.) sent to Florence from Berlin in 1616, engraved and gilded silver, cast parts, ground rock crystal, coral, with relics of 30 saints and adorned with small silver figures.
Reliquary of St. Victoria (1665-1680) poplar wood with ebony finish; pear wood and Rio rosewood; embossed, chased and engraved silver.
Reliquary of St. Victoria (1665-1680) poplar wood with ebony finish; pear wood and Rio rosewood; embossed, chased and engraved silver; skull, bones.
L: Reliquary of St. Gregory the Great (first half of XVII century), carved rock crystal, gilded silver with cast parts, ebony. From series of “Augsburg” reliquaries with popular 16-17th century German style craftsmanship.  R: Architectural reliquary (end of XVI century), wood with ebony veneer, perforated, engraved and gilded silver, semi-precious stones. This monumental reliquary is in the shape of a portable altar, popular in Rome and Florence from the late 16th century.
L: Reliquary of St. Gregory the Great (first half of XVII century), carved rock crystal; gilded silver with cast parts; ebony; bones. From series of “Augsburg” reliquaries with popular 16-17th century German style craftsmanship. R: Architectural reliquary (end of XVI century), wood with ebony veneer; perforated, engraved and gilded silver; semi-precious stones; bones. This monumental reliquary is in the shape of a portable altar, popular in Rome and Florence from the late 16th century.
Reliquary of St. Stephen, Pope and Martyr, with other saints (XVII century), rosewood with guilloche finish; embossed and chased silver with cast parts; gilded copper; ground crystal. Urn-shaped reliquary made from rare and valuable Rio rosewood from Brazil, resembling ebony. Sides decorated with heraldic figures: uprooted laurel trees, and stylized bees and suns.Top has small shrine with relics of St. Stephen the Pope, marked by 2 silver angels.
Reliquary of St. Stephen, Pope and Martyr, with other saints (XVII century), rosewood with guilloche finish; embossed and chased silver with cast parts; gilded copper; ground crystal. Urn-shaped reliquary made from rare and valuable Rio rosewood from Brazil, resembling ebony. Sides decorated with heraldic figures: uprooted laurel trees, and stylized bees and suns.Top has small shrine with relics of St. Stephen the Pope, marked by 2 silver angels.
L: Pair of monstrance reliquaries (beginning of XVII century), inlaid and turned ebony and ivory; carved wood; cast, engraved and gilded copper; enamel; silk; glass.  R: Reliquary of St. Alexius (1690-1691) repousse’ and chased silver; chased and cast gold; gilded copper; semi-precious stones (amethyst); ebony. Massimiliano Soldini Benzi’s masterpiece depicts scene of the death of the ascetic beggar St Alexius.
L: Pair of monstrance reliquaries (beginning of XVII century), inlaid and turned ebony and ivory; carved wood; cast, engraved and gilded copper; enamel; silk; glass. R: Reliquary of St. Alexius (1690-1691) repousse’ and chased silver; chased and cast gold; gilded copper; semi-precious stones (amethyst); ebony. Massimiliano Soldini Benzi’s masterpiece depicts scene of the death of the ascetic beggar St Alexius.
L: Reliquary of St. Casimir (1687-1688) repousse’, chased, engraved, partly gilded silver, some parts cast. Style reflects the Medici court acceptance of Roman Baroque taste, bold in design and high in quality. R: Reliquary of St. Anthoy of Padua (1681-1684) silver and gilded, repousse’ chased, grained and engraved silver. Created by court goldsmith Marcantonio Merlini and design by architect Pier Maria Baldi.
L: Reliquary of St. Casimir (1687-1688) repousse’, chased, engraved, partly gilded silver, some parts cast. Style reflects the Medici court acceptance of Roman Baroque taste, bold in design and high in quality. R: Reliquary of St. Anthoy of Padua (1681-1684) silver and gilded, repousse’ chased, grained and engraved silver. Created by court goldsmith Marcantonio Merlini and design by architect Pier Maria Baldi.
Medallion reliquary (XVII c.) embossed and chased silver filigree; cut glass; silk.
Medallion reliquary (XVII c.) embossed and chased silver filigree; cut glass; silk.

Sacri Splendori: The Treasure of the ‘Chapel of Relics’ of the Palazzo Pitti

Through November 2, 2014

Museo degli Argenti – Palazzo Pitti
Piazza Pitti, Florence – ITALY

Special Exhibition Tickets
Full Price: € 10.00, reduced: € 10.00
Buy tickets online

 

 

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