lapis lazuli “magia del blu” @ museo degli argenti – pitti palace

Bed post finials with lapis lazzuli and gold-plated bronze, from the first half of the XVII c. Museo del Opificio delle Pietre Dure, Florence, Italy
Bed post finials with lapis lazzuli and gold-plated bronze, from the first half of the XVII c. Museo del Opificio delle Pietre Dure, Florence, Italy

Lapis Lazzuli: Magia del Blu

June 9 – October 11, 2015

Museo degli Argenti – Palazzo Pitti, Florence

Since antiquity, lapis lazuli has historically been a highly regarded rare and regal semi-precious stone imported from Asia and utilized for it’s beautiful blue hue in art objects (jewelry, carvings, boxes, mosaics, ornaments, vases) and for paint pigments (ultramarine blue). This exhibition at the Museo degli Argenti in Florence’s Palazzo Pitti includes fine examples of art and objects from throughout the centuries to contemporary jewelry. Here are some of the highlights and an introduction from the exhibition:

Lapis lazuli info from Museo degli Argenti
Lapis lazuli exhibition info from Museo degli Argenti
Lapis lazuli
Lapis lazuli
Lapis lazuli bowls and cups from the XVI-XVII c. - Palazzo Pitti, Florence
Lapis lazuli bowls and cups from the XVI-XVII c. for the Grand Duke – Palazzo Pitti, Florence
Scarebs and amulets from Egypt
Scarebs and amulets from Egypt
Necklace from IX BC - III AC, Iraq
Necklace from IX BC – III AC, Iraq (Museo Archeologico Nazionale, Florence)
Lapis lazuli objects from XVI-XVII c.
Lapis lazuli objects from XVI-XVII c. from collections in Florence
Cut stone inlay of a view of Tuscan landscape, 1608, workshop of the Grand Duke, Camillo d'Ottaviano di Porfirio of design by Bernardino Poccetti (Museo dell'Opificio delle Pietre Dure, Florence)
Cut stone inlay of a view of Tuscan landscape, 1608, workshop of the Grand Duke, Camillo d’Ottaviano di Porfirio of design by Bernardino Poccetti (Museo dell’Opificio delle Pietre Dure, Florence)
Luigi Valadier, Cartagloria della Cappella Borghese, 1762 (Rome)
Luigi Valadier, Cartagloria della Cappella Borghese, 1762 (Rome)

From Oltramarine to Klein Blue

Yves Klein,
Yves Klein, “Victoire de Samothrace S9” 1973, pure pigment and synthetic resin on plaster (Gori Collection, Pistoia)

Oltramarine blue was extolled as a “noble color, beauteous, perfect beyond all colors” by Cennino Cennini in his Libro dell’Arte, the most important treatise on artistic techniques of the late Middle Ages. The pigment is obtained from lapis lazuli through a long, complex refining process, whose steps are described by Cennino Cennini. It was used with different gradations on both parchment manuscripts, that in painting on wood, on fresco and painting, starting from the Middle Ages until the 19th century. The name “ultramarine” evokes the distant Asian origins of lapis lazuli, the pigment’s crucial ingredient and the reason for its quality, rarity and expense. Indeed, the inevitable high cost of the ultramarine pigment renders it a prerogative of the most exclusive oral clients. In the 19th century, ultramarine blue, which had become increasingly rare, was replaced by an artificial pigment that required no lapis lazuli, developed by Jean Baptiste Guimet. In the 20th century, renowned French artist Yves Klein dedicated much of his energy to the search for a new blue pigment, which was eventually patented and named after him. (Source: Museo degli Argenti, Palazzo Pitti)

Which brings us to the part of the exhibition where lapis lazuli is used in contemporary jewelry.

Lucia Massei,
Lucia Massei, “Nata del Mediterraneo” 2009, silver, gold, pigment, pearls, lapis lazuli
Annamaria Zanella,
Annamaria Zanella, “Annunciata” 2009, Giampaolo Babetto, “Orecchini” 1993, Renzo Pasquale, “Piramide” 2002
Helfried Kodre, Alberto Zorzi, Ettore Sottsass Jr, Renzo Pasquale
Helfried Kodre, Alberto Zorzi, Giovanni Sicuro-Minto, Ettore Sottsass Jr, Renzo Pasquale

Tickets: includes entrance to the Boboli Garden, Porcelain Museum, Costume Museum, Bardini Gardens, and Silver Museum: €10 / €5 reduced

Hours: June, July, August 8:15am-6:50pm
September-October 8:15-6:30pm
Closed the first and last Monday of the month

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