The collection

The women’s collection uses embroidered butterflies and painted shells, mythological cameos and mosaic prints, in a gallery of feminine items, with a bold visual impact. Black, white, powder pink and baroque gold are the dominant shades, interrupted by evanescent flashes and splashes of colour stolen from gemstones. The men’s collection brings back the look of the armour worn by mediaeval knights: decorative patterns with a chiaroscuro effect merge into casual styles for a range of everyday wear: T-shirts, bomber jackets, shirts and pants.

The Florentine mosaic technique - also called ‘commesso’ in Italian - used for this floral and dove motif table top is a a veritable patchwork of only apparently unitary images born from the combination of a multitude of stone pieces which are shaped and assembled to fit together perfectly. The word ‘commesso’ derives from the Latin ‘committere’ meaning putting together.
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The steel helmet, made by Pompeo della Cesa, is part of a small collection of armour for cavalry and infantry that belonged to Renato Borromeo. Enhanced by carved decorations with patterns of interwoven ribbons, pretty shapes, rings, allegorical figures, horse bits and golden trophies that stand out against the blackened, granite background, the helmet, made in Brescia, dates back to the end of the sixteenth century.
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Diana the Huntress stands out from the centre of a precious gold wire mount. Wearing a knee-length tunic, she was portrayed in the 19th century by master engraver, Giovanni Santarelli, as she takes an arrow from her quiver while her bow is held in her right hand and a running dog is depicted at her feet.
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The deep blue background of a lapis lazuli stone, enclosed by a frame of gold-plated silver sets the scene for the splendid, elegant figure of Apollo, carrying a bow and quiver on his back and chasing the nymph Daphne, whose upstretched arms are turning into laurel branches. The engraving, which depicts the well-known myth of Apollo and Daphne, dates back to the 17th century.
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The porphyry table top portraying shells, coral and pearls is emblematic of the pietre dure crafting technique, also known as “painting in stone” precisely because these refined mosaics, composed by painstakingly juxtaposing hundreds of stone fragments, required a high level of technical skill and were created to last for eternity.
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The buckler, a circular shield dating to the 19th century, is one of the most fashionable pieces of armour used in the Renaissance period. Its circular structure, made of engraved steel and enhanced by an extremely intricate sunburst decoration with patterns composed of intertwined leaves, sunbeams on fire and eight-pointed stars, culminates in the centre in a large rose with golden leaves.
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With an extremely varied collection of samples composed of over 600 stones from all over the world, the Medici family launched the ancient, prestigious craft of pietre dure. The table top with multi-coloured engravings on a base of oriental chalcedony is an extraordinary example of this ancient technique, which exploits the natural colour palette of the stones to create pictorial effects.
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The horseman’s helmet, which dates back to 1570, is valuable evidence of the art of iron engraving performed in Brescia. Indeed, this craft has very ancient origins, dating back to the Celtic dominations in the 5th century B.C. In particular, its prestige is rendered by the refined patterns with lime tree leaves which decorate the entire front section.
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This horseman’s armour is composed of pieces from various sources, joined in a flawlessly compatible style. The particular decorations, including plates decorated with trophies and plant patterns, typical of armour produced in Lombardy in the sixteenth century, are indeed the distinguishing element that unites and characterises the various separate parts, rebuilding an overall striking effect.
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Large Nautilus shells such as the one in this 17th century cup have been imported to Europe since the Middle Ages from the ports of southern China, where the craftsmen’s workshops were specialised in the decoration of mother-of-pearl shells. From the sixteenth century on, the fashion of setting these wonders of the ocean in elegant gold-plated silver frames became popular in the courts of Europe, thanks to the prestigious work of their highly skilled goldsmiths.
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