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

Lacca Contrafatta

Lacca Contrafatta (also termed Lacca Povera) was developed to imitate the appearance of costly, scarce, and fashionable high value lacquer being imported into Europe from the far East. This popular form of decoration sprang up in Venice circa 1750 and used prints, cut and pasted on to armoires, cabinets and chests, then painted, gilded and finished with clear varnish. Interestingly, Lacca Contrafatta is now rarer and possibly more valued in the west than the material it imitated.

From Carlton Hobbs:  Charming pair of cream Lacca Contrafatta folding tea tables, German or possibly Swedish, 18th century.

Lacca Povera

The Italian furniture known as Lacca Povera, which translates as “poor man’s lacquer,” dates from the 18th century and may or may not have originated in Venice.  Also known as Lacca Contraffata, or “counterfeit lacquer,” it is basically an imitation of Oriental lacquer. The technique involves printed paper images pasted on the painted furniture surface and then coated with many coats of varnish to create the illusion of high-gloss lacquer decoration. To satisfy the demand for a less expensive version of the true lacquer decoration, printers produced sheets of engravings specifically for Lacca Povera decoration.  Chinoiserie figures, shepherds and sheperdesses, huntsmen, garlands, and bouquets of flowers are all common printed motifs. One of the printing firms that produced sheets of motifs specifically intended to be cut out to create Lacca Povera furniture was Giovanni Antonio Remondini. 

An Italian Rococo Lacca Povera Commode, Second Half 18th Century. Image via Andrew Jones Auctions.

Lattimo refers to a white glass produced in the 15th century to imitate porcelain, using tin and lead. The word originates from “latte” (milk).

Lattimo glass vase. Venice, circa 1500-1509. Image via The British Museum.


Latticino is a term used to describe glass decorated with a pattern of white, or sometimes colored, threads of glass. The technique is also known as Filigrana (thread-grained). It was developed in 16th century Venice and has been used to produce three main effects on glass: vetro a retorti, which has twists embedded in clear glass; vetro a reticello, which has a fine network of crossed threads; and vetro a fili, which has a spiral or helix pattern.

Tall Salviati latticino wine glass goblet, circa 1900

Fra Filippo Lippi (1406 – 1469)

Fra Filippo Lippi, a renowned Italian Renaissance painter, left an indelible mark on the art world with his distinctive style and captivating works. Born in Florence, Lippi’s early life was marked by turbulence, as he was orphaned and eventually found his calling as a monk. However, his passion for art could not be suppressed, and he embarked on a remarkable artistic journey. Lippi’s paintings are characterized by their delicate use of color, graceful compositions, and a keen sense of realism. His ability to capture the human form with remarkable detail and emotion is evident in works like “Madonna and Child” (below) and “The Annunciation.”