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

Calcedonio glass imitates the agate rock (called “calcedonio” in Italian and a type of quartz), with veins of contrasting color running through the deep-colored glass. It is produced by mixing coloring agents into a fusion of different types of glass.

Covered beaker in calcedonio glass. Europe, 18th century. The Corning Museum of Glass.

Caravaggio (1571 – 1610)

Caravaggio was a master Italian painter, father of the Baroque style, who led a tumultuous life that was cut short his by his fighting and brawling. As a child and art student, he trained in Milan under a teacher who had been taught by the great Italian painter Titian himself, and who exposed him to the great works of Leonardo de Vinci and the Lombard artists. He moved to Rome in 1592, at the time the city was in a period if great expansion, and the many churches and palaces being built were all in need of paintings to decorate the walls. He immediately began working for Giuseppe Cesari, the favorite painter of the Pope, and throughout the end of the 16th century his reputation as a great painter grew. His big break came in 1599, when he was commissioned to paint the Contarelli Chapel in Rome, which was finished in 1600. after which he began receiving many commissions, both public and private. Some of his works, being controversial in subject matter (his unacceptably vulgar realistic style) and models (one of his favorite models for the Virgin Mary was a prostitute), and some of his works were returned to be painted over or fixed. Others were returned entirely, but Caravaggio always had a public willing to snatch up any painting he produced.

Caravaggio’s “Boy with a Basket of Fruit,” one of his first paintings.


A cassapanca is is an Italian-style furniture piece that combines the comfort of a bench with the storage capabilities of a chest. It features a low-profile seat on top of a hinged wooden box with plenty of space for storing items like blankets, books, toys, and more. 

Cassapanca, Florence, mid 16th century. Image via The Metropolitan Museum of Art.


Cassone is the term given to large decorated chests made in Italy from the fourteenth to the sixteenth centuries. Next to the marriage bed, cassoni were cherished in wealthy Renaissance households, for they held clothing, precious fabrics, and other valuables. Often commissioned by the groom in marriage, a cassone was prominently carried in the nuptial procession, laden with the dowry of his new bride. In the fifteenth century, whole workshops were given over to the manufacture and decoration of cassoni.

Italian cassone, circa 1425–50. Image via The Metropolitan Museum of Art.


The Castellani family were goldsmiths, collectors, antique dealers and potters who created a business “empire” active in Rome during the 18th and 19th centuries. Fortunato Pio Castellani (1794–1865), the forefather of the family, opened his own workshop in Rome and specialized in the creation of jewels imitating the ones that then came to light from the necropolis of Etruria, that were found in the excavations of Pompeii and Herculaneum or that could be observed in the Campana collection. Initiating a partnership with Duke Michelangelo Caetani, a lover of fine arts and a designer of jewels himself, allowed Fortunato Castellani to quickly work for the most illustrious aristocratic families, initially Roman and at a later date even European. Fortunato also imported luxurious goldsmith works from the rest of Europe to be resold in Rome. The Castellani of the second generation devoted themselves only to the trade of jewels of their own production or to the sale of archaeological finds.

Castellani 15k gold bracelet, with four carved scarab carnelian elements. Italy, early 20th century.