Venice Exhibition Traces the History of Buccellati


The Italian playwright and politician Gabriele d’Annunzio entered a Milan shop in 1922, intrigued by intricate sketches displayed in the window.

Inside, he discovered Mario Buccellati and a goldsmithing expertise rooted in the traditions of the Italian Renaissance. Their encounter sparked a lifelong friendship and patronage, ultimately shaping the fortunes of the young craftsman and helping to propel the name Buccellati into the world of the aristocrats and royalty of the time.

“The Prince of Goldsmiths, Rediscovering the Classics,” an exhibition that runs through June 18 on Giudecca, a Venetian island, traces the history of the Buccellati jewelry house founded in 1919 and pays special tribute to the men’s relationship.

“When we decided to present this exhibition, the title came almost spontaneously,” Gianluca Brozzetti, the executive vice president of Buccellati, wrote in an email. “The ‘Prince of Goldsmiths’ was how Gabriele d’Annunzio defined Mario Buccellati, attesting to his expertise in creating timeless masterpieces.”

Featuring a selection of 230 of the jewelry house’s most spectacular creations — 135 pieces of jewelry and 95 silver works — the show in Oficine 800, an exhibition space, is reached via a short vaporetto ride from Piazza San Marco in the heart of this northern Italian city.

“Venice has always been one of the most celebrated symbols of goldsmithing and jewelry traditions, so it was the ideal setting to host a retrospective to retrace the history of Buccellati,” Mr. Brozzetti wrote.

Buccellati was a family-owned business for much of its history, and the show traces the contribution of four generations, starting with Mario, who founded the company when he was 28; then one of his five sons, Gianmaria; then Gianmaria’s second son, Andrea; then Andrea’s daughter, Lucrezia, who joined the Milan-based business in 2011.

In 2019, the luxury group Richemont assumed full ownership of the company, succeeding the Shanghai-based investment company, Gansu Gangtai Holding Group, to which the family had ceded a majority stake in 2017.

Mario Buccellati’s style was defined by honeycomb goldwork and delicate filigree detailing. Thin wires of precious metal were twisted and soldered together, incorporating textured finishes and precise techniques of engraving, etching and granulation, often enhanced with diamonds, baroque pearls or extraordinary colored stones. All remain signature elements of the Buccellati style.

“We would like visitors to leave with an understanding of how Buccellati’s style has evolved, always maintaining a timeless allure, but never forgetting its historic roots,” Andrea Buccellati, the jeweler’s creative director, wrote in an email.

Divided into four sections, the exhibition begins with “The Buccellati Generations,” featuring four butterfly brooches demonstrating the evolution of the motif.

The next section is dedicated to small, personal objects, like delicately engraved cigarette cases, powder boxes or evening bags with engraved or gem-set metal hardware. Then comes a room filled with silver housewares inspired by creatures of the land and sea.

Masterworks of Buccellati jewelry are saved for last, showcasing a range of signature creations like the Eternal ring, a classic of the house, and engraved gold and silver cuff bracelets. It also includes one-of-a-kind pieces, like the delicate openwork white and yellow gold necklace chosen for the show’s advertising poster.

Buccellati teamed with Balich Wonder Studio, also of Milan, to create an immersive environment for the show. Floor-to-ceiling animations are projected on walls. Dynamic images of nature, classical art, architecture and sculpture appear on interactive showcases — all key sources of inspiration for Buccellati — synchronized to the “Spring” concerto from Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons.”

“For the jewelry, we created classical columns aligned in a long gallery with mirrors at each end to create an illusion of infinity,” Claudio Sbragion, the creative director of Balich Wonder Studio, said at the opening of the show. “It is a temple to the art of Buccellati, suspended between past and future.”



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