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Four Late 19th Century Italian Scagliola Marble Specimens, circa 1890
Assortment of 72 varieties of marble made in scagliola and applied to slate Northern Italy, late 19th century Each slab dimensions 30.5 cm (12 in) x 42.5 cm (16.73 in) Each frame dimensions 37.5 cm (14.76 in) x 50 cm (19.68 in) State of conservation: a break in one of the slate slabs has been repaired. Scagliola is a type of fine plaster used in inlay technique. It was created at the end of the sixteenth and early seventeenth century to imitate varieties of marble and hard stones and, thanks to a mixture of the same plaster with natural glues and colored pigments, led to the formation of a completely innovative material to adorn altars, architectural structures, as well as decorative elements of noble palaces. The manifestations of the art of scagliola in Germany and Austria appear to precede only a few years the activity of the Carpigian workshops to which the beginning of this technique can be traced in Italy. The birth of the “mischia” (mix), colored chalk imitating marble as an art is attributed to Guido Fassi (Carpi, 1584-1649) an inventor and artist who, using materials considered poor during the time period between the Renaissance and the Baroque eras, managed to create objects imitating marble of indisputable value. This art was linked to stucco decorations and sculpture, an activity in which the Ticino and Lombard craftsmen had long been specialized. Indeed, it was they who spread the technique. In the Intelvi Valley (near Como Lake), a production developed that branched out into Lombardy, Piedmont and Ticino: the technique adopted here differs from those of Carpi and Tuscany and led to the formation of a real school. The revolt against the Baroque tradition during the second half of the eighteenth century led to an aversion to stucco, which was considered a minor art, and culminated at the end of the century in the aesthetic theory that negatively viewed all decoration as it was considered a superimposition of ornamentation. The mimetic vocation that created a new material capable of replacing marble is evident in our four works, which imitate an elegant sample. The four panels are made by overlapping a mask over the slate base plates. Into the reserves left uncovered by the mask, the “gesso cotto” (cooked plaster) was poured and mixed with glue water. The pigment coloring is the characterizing element of coating techniques which imitate the various types of marble. The coloring is here realized directly in the dough, according to the traditional scagliola technique; the use of protein binders then increases the hardness of the final product. A second smoothing step with abrasive stones, such as pumice or sandstone, produced a silky and refined surface. Finally, a third phase with the use of very fine powders finished off the process of smoothing the surface. The last stage of polishing could be carried out in two ways: either with a brushed-on application of a layer of water and soap followed by another of only linseed oil, applied with a piece of felt. Or a first coating with linseed oil and a subsequent one composed of a mixture of wax and turpentine oil applied with a wool or silk cloth: this second technique characterizes our works. The slabs decorated with samples of imitation marble scagliola are inserted in a neoclassical style frame and it is thought that they may have been made in Northern Italy: the slate stone support is in fact characteristic of this geographical area. We think it could be the area near the Intelvi valley or Switzerland. Due to the characteristics of the sample, the dating must be placed at the end of the nineteenth century. It is believed that this is a collection which was created as a decorative element and not as an object of work or study. The quality of the realization leads us to hypothesize this use even if this would not exclude a promotion of the capacities of the workshop which executed them. Bibliography R. Cremaschi, L'arte della scagliola carpigiana nei secoli XVII, XVIII e XIX, Mantova 1977. G. Manni, Le scagliole, in Atlante dei beni culturali dell'Emilia Romagna. I beni degli artigianati storici, Milano 1993.
- In the Style Of
- Place of Origin
- Date of Manufacturecirca 1890
- Materials and TechniquesMoldedScagliola,Slate
- Condition DetailsA break in one of the slate slabs has been repaired.
- WearMinor structural damages. Minor fading.
- DimensionsH 14.77 in. x W 19.69 in. x D 1.97 in.H 37.5 cm x W 50 cm x D 5 cm
- Seller LocationMilano, IT
- Sold AsSet of 4
- Reference NumberLU4352216641782
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Associations: International Confederation of Art and Antique Dealers' Associations
1stdibs seller since 2018
Located in Milano, IT
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