Jewelry Artistry in Rome-Gold, Silver, and Precious Stones: A Four-Part Course with Francesca Barberini

Jewelry Artistry in Rome-Gold, Silver, and Precious Stones: A Four-Part Course with Francesca Barberini


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Gold and silver have always been symbols of wealth and power. From the seventeenth through nineteenth centuries in Rome, collecting objects made of silver and gold was a status symbol amongst the aristocracy and nouveau riche and an important segment of the economy. Jewelry had particular importance and appeal, allowing the wearer to express his or her personality, with precious stones holding a magical fascination.

In this course, we will explore the fascinating world of silver and goldsmiths working in Rome. We will visit their workshops, learn about their techniques, and delve into the lively trade that developed around them. We will look closely at the amazing works of art made in silver and gold, often gilded and embellished with precious stones, that enriched private homes, and churches. We will learn how jewels attracted the attention of women of every period, also luring travelers during the Grand Tour seeking to bring back the ultimate souvenir from Rome.

Led by an expert on Renaissance and Baroque art, specializing in decorative arts, Francesca Barberini, this course will explore the gleaming and creative world of silver and goldsmiths. Designed to inform curiosity as well as future travels, participants will come away with an increased knowledge of the art and the world of precious metals, stones, and jewelry in Rome.

 

Lecture 1: Silversmith Workshops in Rome

In the first lecture of our series, we will explore the workshops of the silversmiths in Rome concentrated around the district of Campo dei Fiori. We will be introduced to the work of Spagna, Arrighi, Valadier, and Tiffany, learning about the techniques of their artistry and their trade, as well as their collaborations with such sculptors as Gian Lorenzo Bernini and Alessandro Algardi.

Lecture 2: The Valadier

In this session, we will dive deep into the workshop and the art of one of the most prominent silversmiths Valadier. We will examine a selection of sacred and profane objects and learn about the patrons who commissioned them, discovering along the way that silversmiths were much more than skilled artisans.

Lecture 3: Jewelry as an Expression of Personality

In our third lecture, we will shift focus to the importance of jewelry and the symbolic value of precious stones in expressing the personality and social status of the wearer. We’ll learn about trendsetters in personal styles such as Catherine Medici, wife of Henry II of France, Josephine, the first wife of Napoleon, and Queen Victoria.

Lecture 4: Jewelry Trends at the time of the Grand Tour

In our final session, we will explore the workshop of two most the most important jewelers working in Rome between the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, Castellani and Saulini. The Castellani worked particularly for the Roman aristocracy such as the Borghese family. The Saulini specialized in cameo engraving, their workshop frequented by aristocratic governors and travelers of the Grand Tour. We’ll examine pieces that now reside in international collections such as the Etruscan Museum of Villa Giulia in Rome, the V&A Museum, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Francesca is an art historian with a degree in modern and contemporary art from the Sapienza University of Rome. She specialized in the art and culture of the Baroque period and in decorative arts, subjects on which she has published several essays. Her publications include a book on the Holy Years in Rome in the XVIIth century and a book on cameos engravers in Rome in the XIXth century. She has been a licensed guide since 2001 and leads itineraries all over Rome, a city she truly loves. She is also an official guide of the Vatican Museums and Vatican City.

 

How does it work?

This is a four-part series held weekly and hosted on Zoom. Please check the schedule for the specific dates and times for each lecture.

Is there a reading list in advance?

Though the course is open to participants with no background in the subject, there are suggested readings for further investigation. You will receive this soon after course registration.

How long are the lectures?

Each lecture is 90 minutes long with time for Q&A.

How much is the course?

The course is $140 for four lectures.

Is a recording available?

In general, our courses are not recorded. However, if you need to miss a lecture please let us know in advance and we can arrange for a recording for that session on an individual basis.

This course is suitable for all ages

90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.

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