Wing The Lead: Buccellati’s ‘The Prince of Goldsmiths – Rediscovering The Classics’ Retrospective Exhibition

The Buccellati jewellery house is hosting a retrospective exhibition, “The Prince of Goldsmiths, Rediscovering the Classics,” in Venice, coinciding with the Venice Biennale 2024, from 18th April to 18th June 2024. The exhibition, created and produced by Balich Wonder Studio, features Buccellati’s jewellery and silverware pieces on Oficine 800 on the Giudecca Canal, with curation by Alba Cappellieri uniting designs from decades. The title “The Prince of Goldsmiths” comes from the words of Italian poet Gabriele D’Annunzio, whose friendship with Mario Buccellati testifies to the Maison’s connection with Italian history since its founding in 1919.

The exhibition aims to rediscover the classics of Buccellati’s goldsmithing art, which has designed jewels with everlasting beauty for over a century. Classical Italian architecture, painting, and sculpture have inspired the goldsmithing creations and dialogue with the precious jewels in the exhibition, enhanced with video installations that immerse visitors into the Buccellati world. The exhibition is divided into four parts, focusing on the generations of the Buccellati family, silver and gold accessories, the most famous silver designs, and jewellery.

Balich Wonder Studio divided the installation concept into two parallel pieces, drawing inspiration from Oficine 800’s unique long and thin design. The visitor follows an ideal perspective line traced by a play of lines and geometries; at times, the path is imagined and directed by the video installations; at other times, the perspective is indefinitely duplicated by a deft use of mirrors. The inventive idea of Bal Wonder Studio celebrates the many temporal spaces that typify Maison Buccellati’s essence by fusing the latest cutting-edge technology with classically inspired shapes like arches and columns.

The Buccellati Generations exhibit showcases the evolution of the Buccellati style over a century, with the wings of the ‘Buccellati Venice Butterfly’ representing beauty and rebirth. The second room, ‘Manmade Wonders’, showcases precious silver creations that embody the 20th-century elegance, including small boxes, smoking accessories, and handbags. Inspired by Italian arts, geometric decorative elements, and brocaded fabrics, Mario Buccllati and Gianmaria Buccellat created these masterpieces with meticulous care, skill, and patience. Gabriele d’Annunzio was a great admirer of Buccellati’s art, commissioning hundreds of pieces of jewellery and silverware that adorned his Vittoriale residence.

The third room, ‘Natural Wonders’, showcases silver masterpieces characteristic of the Buccellati Style, distinguished by the Arte Sottile, or the art of masterfully working silver. This sanctuary of nature-inspired creations exemplifies the craftsmanship of Buccellati’s masters in ancient techniques, such as embossing and chiselling, and celebrating fauna and flora in their luxuriant beauty. Semi-precious stones blend with silver in refined creations, while materials like bamboo, horn, porcelain, and Murano glass combine to forge sculptural forms of extraordinary grace.

In the last room, ‘The Gallery of the Icons’, the Buccellati Maison’s iconic pieces come to life in a long, endless, completely white gallery featuring neoclassical-style columns. The four central columns display the four main distinctive techniques of the Maison: Tulle, Lace, Engraving, and Enchainment, which transform gold into an animated surface, evoking the textures of the finest fabrics. In the side columns, one can admire iconic creations such as Ombelicalis autoirs, Eternelle rings, and festive Cocktail high jewelry, while in the opposite columns, the Macri, Hawaii, Etoilée, and Opera collections celebrate natural and architectural beauty with refined details and timeless elegance.

Venice was chosen as the natural home for the retrospective, as it is widely recognized as a masterpiece of art and represents timeless beauty and a goldsmith’s art that lives daily in the contemporary world. The exhibition retraces the distinctive themes of Buccellati’s creations, highlighting the craftsmanship and preciousness of the classic all-important pieces of history.

Wing Framework

Buccellati gems have always been inspired by tradition, methods, and the beauty of nature. “The Buccellati Generations,” featuring four brooches fashioned like butterflies, allows guests not just to witness the four masterpieces in this chamber, but instead, be engulfed by a dream of sketches and images that create an utterly immersive environment.

A big, complex open work is displayed in the first brooch, which the originator, Mario, created in the 1950s. The second one is notable for its striking use of color and stone combinations, and was made by Mario’s son Gianmaria. The third is a masterpiece of honeycomb carefully built using the Tulle technique, exhibiting exceptional accuracy and talent. It was made by Gianmaria’s son Andrea, and it was based on an original 1995 design. Lastly,  Buccellati’s Venezia Butterfly, created by Andrea Buccellati in collaboration with his daughter Lucrezia, incorporates all the Maison’s techniques from openwork to tulle to bring the style and elegance of the past into the present.

The sculpted parts of yellow gold and the use of diamonds for the wings’ margins and a light white gold lace all contribute to the unique play of gold colour contrasts that are characteristic of Buccellati. Not only does the tulle pattern encircle the naiveté-cut diamond, but it also highlights the intricacy of the tulle method and gives the wings a hint of impalpability and intensity.

Because butterflies are symbolic of grace, elegance, change, and the desire for rebirth, the Buccellati Family’s creatives have always found great inspiration in them. As a result, the four brooches represent the excellence of the Buccellati Maison, its enduring craftsmanship, and its methods that have been applied for more than a century.

‘The Prince of Goldsmith, Rediscovering the Classics’ Exhibition’

18th April —June 18th 2024

OFICINE 800, Fondamenta S. Biagio, 800, 30133, Venice VE