The Alphabet of Art & Antiques – Italian style! F is for…

The 2023 San Francisco Fall Show will celebrate La Dolce Vita – the quintessentially Italian approach to the “good life”. We will indulge in the pure pleasure of appreciating and collecting art, antiques and design. From Botticelli to Bertoia, from Fellini to Fornasetti, from Schiaparelli to Sottsass, La Dolce Vita is all about poetic beauty, breathtaking art, groundbreaking design, exuberant colors and refined materials. We’re breaking it down alphabetically… F is for:

Leonor Fini (1907 – 1996)

Leonor Fini was a renowned Argentine-Italian surrealist artist and designer. She gained recognition for her unique and provocative artworks, which challenged societal norms and explored themes of sexuality, identity, and power. Fini’s paintings often featured enigmatic female figures, mysterious creatures, and dreamlike landscapes, reflecting her fascination with the subconscious mind and the complexities of human existence. Her artistic style was characterized by meticulous attention to detail, vibrant colors, and a sense of theatricality. Apart from her visual art, Fini also made significant contributions to theater and fashion, designing costumes and sets for various productions. She was a prominent figure in the surrealist movement and left an indelible mark on the art world with her visionary and audacious creations.

Woman Seated on a Naked Man (Femme assise sur un homme nu) by Leonor Fini, 1942

Lavinia Fontana (1552 – 1614)

Lavinia Fontana was an exceptional Italian Renaissance painter known for her remarkable talent and pioneering role as a female artist in a male-dominated era. Born in Bologna, Fontana received an excellent artistic education and quickly gained recognition for her extraordinary skills. She primarily focused on portraiture and religious themes, displaying a remarkable ability to capture the emotions and personalities of her subjects. Fontana’s works were characterized by their meticulous attention to detail, vibrant colors, and delicate brushwork. Her artistic achievements were not only limited to her technical prowess, but also her ability to navigate the challenges of being a woman in the art world of the time. She had a successful career, receiving numerous prestigious commissions and becoming a respected figure in Italian society.

Bianca degli Utili Maselli by Lavinia Fontana, 1605

Mariano Fortuny (1871 – 1949)

Mariano Fortuny was an extraordinary visionary in the realms of fashion, textiles, and stage design. His artistic talents were diverse and encompassed painting, sculpture, and architecture, but he is best remembered for his groundbreaking contributions to the world of fashion. He revolutionized textile printing by developing a unique technique that allowed for rich and intricate designs on fabrics. His delicate pleating process, known as the Fortuny pleat, created flowing and ethereal garments that draped elegantly on the body. Fortuny’s creations were celebrated for their timeless beauty, exquisite craftsmanship, and innovative use of color and pattern. His genius extended beyond fashion, as he also made significant advancements in lighting design and stage production.

Isadora Duncan’s adopted daughters in Fortuny Delphos gowns, 1920s

Florentine finish

For generations, a specialist engraving technique has been passed down from one master craftsperson to the next, leaving it relatively unknown to those outside of traditional Italian workshops. Its beauty reflects decades of Italian artistry, specifically the ability to transform the surface of gold with decorative finishes. Known as the ‘Florentine finish’, this technique creates tiny cross-hatch engraved lines across gold jewelry, watches and, as was especially popular in the 1970s, furniture and light fixtures.

Jade and diamond bangle with Florentine finish, by Buccellati

A method of infusing lines or grids of color (originally mainly white) into glass, which is achieved by laying thin rods of clear glass with the desired colored thread inside next to one another, fusing them together, and then molding them into a cylinder.

Photo courtesy of Frides Lameris Art and Antique, Amsterdam