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Thursday, October 2, 2014

Renaissance as a Golden Age

This item of goldsmithery comes from 16th century Germany. The upper part of the cup is not a shell nor a coconut, though both materials were actually used for this kind of objects; it is part of the horn of a rhinoceros. Not by chance, both rhino horns and big exotic shells and Indian coconuts (that however were considered sea fossils) and eagle claws were linked with medical and/or magic powers.

This leads us to the discovery of a "truer" Renaissance, i.e. not the one conveyed by the art of Raphael, Leonardo Da Vinci, and Michelangelo, as it usually the case, that means classical or Biblical (but classically shaped) personages clad in 16th century clothing. The Renaissance -- as it is clearly shown in the long poem Il Mondo Creato by our friend Torquato Tasso -- in its marrow was an era of questioning, experiments, paradoxes, ambiguity, irrationality, or rather, different and alternative but coexisting patterns of understanding.

The picture above is taken from the book Di natura e d'invenzione. Fantasie orafe dal Rinascimento al Barocco [From Nature and Invention: Fantasies in Gold, Renaissance to Baroque], the catalogue of an exhibition that took place in Arezzo, Italy, in 1993, showing some 40 works of craftsmanship.