Curated by Amanda Triossi
22 may - 13 september 2009
Palazzo delle Esposizioni presents a landmark show devoted to the jewellery of Bulgari which marks the 125th anniversary of the opening of the first store in Rome in 1884. It is an event that is extremely significant for Italian decorative arts, in particular, for the history of jewellery, inasmuch as it makes it possible to survey the evolution of European jewellery through the production of one of the leading jewellers in the world.
By bringing together nearly five hundred objects created between 1884 and 2009, the exhibition intends to illustrate the origin and success of an absolutely distinctive style and, at the same time, celebrate the extraordinary technical and creative quality of the famous Roman maison.
Articulated in chronological and thematic sections in the eight monumental galleries of the piano nobile, the exhibition begins with a display of silver artefacts manufactured by the founder of the firm, Sotirio Bulgari, a Greek silversmith who settled in Rome in 1881. The following section is dedicated to the splendid diamond-set jewels in Art Déco style, which clearly illustrate the success the maison had achieved in the field of jewellery by the 1930s when the second generation of Bulgari, Giorgio and Costantino, succeeded Sotirio in running the firm. The exhibition continues with the most representative examples of the 1940s and 1950s, which were still stylistically influenced by the Parisian jewellery in vogue at the time, and then leads the visitor to the creative turning point of the 1960s. The jewellery here, marked by compact, rounded shapes and an abundant use of coloured gemstones in surprising and unusual combinations, reveals the beginning of a distinctive new style that coincides with the arrival of the third generation of Bulgari, that of Gianni, Nicola and Paolo. The extremely eclectic and original creations of the 1970s, ranging from jewellery evocative of the Indian tradition to that inspired by Pop Art, then develop into the innovative and daring designs of the 1980s and 1990s.
The central rotunda of Palazzo delle Esposizioni, the visitor's final destination, is entirely dedicated to the most precious and exclusive creations of the new millennium which testify the continuing success of Bulgari, now under the guidance of Francesco Trapani of the fourth generation. Here, a diamond necklace of incomparable beauty and overwhelming economic value represents the most spectacular conclusion possible.
The exhibition devotes special attention to some of the most significant themes of the Bulgari style such as: coins mounted in jewellery, serpent motifs, the so-called Tubogas and the BVLGARI logo used as a decorative element. An entire section is dedicated to the Dolce Vita and the company's close ties with the film industry of the 1950s and 1960s. For the first time ever, visitors will be able to admire the spectacular jewels worn by such great film stars as Ingrid Bergman, Gina Lollobrigida, Sophia Loren, Anna Magnani, as well as other celebrities, along with photographs and film clips. An entire room will be reserved for the extraordinary Bulgari collection belonging to Elizabeth Taylor: enormous emeralds and sapphires in magnificent diamond surrounds characterize the celebrated jewels of her love story with Richard Burton.
Approximately two hundred and fifty items in the exhibition are part of the Bulgari Vintage Collection (a retrospective collection not for sale) while the jewels that come from private collections are on display here for the first time.
This extraordinary exhibition is complemented by a richly illustrated catalogue of 376 pages, which is available in Italian, English and French.