The Alphabet of Art & Antiques – Italian style! B 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… B is for:
Osvaldo Borsani (1911 – 1985)
Osvaldo Borsani was an Italian designer and architect, born into a family of artisan furniture makers. His father, Gaetano Borsani, owned a furniture shop, the Atelier di Varedo, where the 16-year-old Osvaldo first started to train. Best known for his research-based approach to making furniture, throughout his career Borsani merged technological and material improvements with inventive Modernist stylings. In 1953, Osvaldo and his brother, Fulgencio, founded a firm called Tecno. There, he created one of his hallmark designs, the P40 lounge chair, featuring rubber arms and the ability to assume 486 distinct postures. Some early designs from the Tecno company can now be found in the permanent collections of The Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, and the Centre Pompidou in Paris.
Pair of burr walnut-veneered armchairs by Osvaldo Borsani, 1930s
Sandro Botticelli (1445 – 1510)
Alessandro di Mariano di Vanni Filipepi, known as Sandro Botticelli was an Italian painter of the Early Renaissance. Botticelli’s posthumous reputation suffered until the late 19th century, when he was rediscovered by the Pre-Raphaelites who stimulated a reappraisal of his work. Since then, his paintings have been seen to represent the linear grace of late Italian Gothic and some Early Renaissance painting, even though they date from the latter half of the Italian Renaissance period. In addition to the mythological subjects for which he is best known today, Botticelli painted a wide range of religious subjects (including dozens of renditions of the Madonna and Child, many in the round tondo shape) and also some portraits. His best-known works are The Birth of Venus and Primavera, both in the Uffizi in Florence, which holds many of Botticelli’s works. This fall, San Francisco’s Legion of Honor will hold the first exhibition ever dedicated to Botticelli’s drawings. Exploring the foundational role drawing played in Botticelli’s work, the exhibition traces his artistic journey, from studying under maestro Fra Filippo Lippi (c. 1406 – 1469) to leading his own workshop in Florence. Featuring rarely seen and newly attributed works, the exhibition provides insight into the design practice of an artist whose name is synonymous with the Italian Renaissance. Botticelli’s drawings offer an intimate look into the making of some of his most memorable masterpieces, including Adoration of the Magi (c. 1500), which will be reunited with its preparatory drawing, surviving only in fragments. From Botticelli’s earliest recorded drawings through expressive designs for his final painting, the works on display reveal the artist’s experimental drawing techniques, quest for ideal beauty, and command of the line.
Sandro Botticelli, Study for the Portrait of a Lady in Profile to the Right (detail, recto), ca. 1485. Silverpoint, heightened with white, on yellow-ochre prepared paper (recto), 13 3/8 x 9 in. (34 x 23 cm). The Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology, Oxford, UK, WA 1863.613
The long-established Italian jewelry and watch company is synonymous with tradition, creativity and skill. Buccellati’s craftsmanship resolves around intricate textural details in the highest quality materials, derived from inspirations such as Venetian lace, Etruscan patterns, Italian vegetation, insects and animals. The founder Mario Buccellati (1891-1965), nicknamed the Prince of Goldsmiths, was fascinated from a very young age by all types of metals, gemstones and the Renaissance period. The extraordinary combination of these three inspirations led to his own distinct style, allowing the brand to become a highly recognizable jeweler and goldsmith in Italy.
Gold cuff with a semi-baroque cultured pearl and rose-cut diamonds, signed M. Buccellati
Paolo Buffa (1903 – 1970)
Paolo Buffa was an Italian architect and designer best known for his designs of mid-century furniture. Characterized by a melding of tradition and modernity, he used a combination of low-profile, rectilinear, and hardwood forms to produce his most classic pieces. Known for his elegant, Neoclassical designs as well as his use of superlative materials in his dining chairs, Buffa also worked with local cabinetmakers to pioneer more efficient production techniques. In the 1960s, Buffa began working with the Italian furniture company, Cassina de Meda, ultimately moving Italian design toward even more streamlined and efficient production models.
From Milord Antiques: Mahogany and sycamore bar cabinet by Paolo Buffa decorated with fencing scenes. Italy, circa 1950
Carlo Bugatti (1856- 1940)
Best known for his associations and contributions to the Art Nouveau movement, Carlo Bugatti’s most recognizable work is his furniture, often composed of natural materials like wood, parchment, vellum, and copper. These pieces are usually heavily decorated with organic accoutrement, such as tassels, painted motifs, and woven fabric. Bugatti had a unique gift for combining and evoking a startlingly wide range of styles and eras. A single chair could reflect Gothic, Asian and Moorish styles, as well as the more-is-more attitude to ornamentation that dominated the Victorian era; the naturalistic motifs of Art Nouveau; and touches that foreshadow Art Deco.
From Milord Antiques: Rare Carlo Bugatti cabinet of asymmetrical design is made of intricately carved and ebonized walnut inlaid with pewter, bone and copper, partially covered with parchment. Italy, circa 1902
Even though Bulgari is an Italian luxury fashion house known for its jewellery, watches, fragrances, accessories, and leather goods, it was actually founded in 1884 by the Greek silversmith Sotirios Boulgaris (1857 – 1932). In its early years, Bulgari was known for silver pieces that borrowed elements from Byzantine and Islamic art, combining them with floral motifs. At the time, Paris was the apex of fashion and creativity, and its trends influenced Sotirios’ designs for decades: jewels of the early 20s were characterized by platinum Art Deco settings while those of the 30s featured geometric diamond motifs—sometimes set in combination with colored gemstones. Convertible jewels were also popular during the time, and one of Bulgari’s major pieces was the Trombino, a small trumpet-shaped ring.
From Kentshire: 1980s Bulgari gold, diamond, and chrysoprase doorknocker hoop earrings
By Vera Vandenbosch