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Valadier. Splendore nella Roma del Settecento
Galleria Borghese
dal 30-10-2019 al 23-02-2020

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Valadier. Splendor in eighteenth-century Rome on display in Rome at the Borghese Gallery from 30 October 2019 to 23 February 2020.

The great monographic exhibition of the autumn will be dedicated to Luigi Valadier, the most celebrated cabinetmaker, founder and Italian goldsmith of his era and one of the protagonists of the cultural climate that developed in Rome in the mid-eighteenth century.

The extraordinary synthesis of versatile creativity and unsurpassed technical expertise, together with Valadier's ability to interpret the new sentiment of antiquity, gave rise to a renewal of taste that established itself in Rome as an international model, making its famous workshop in Via del Babuino one of the most visited places by royalty, diplomats, collectors, antique dealers and grand tourists.

In 1759 Luigi Valadier took over the workshop of his father Andrea, a French silversmith settled in Rome in the second decade of the century. The first works carried out for the Borghese date back to that year: the reconstruction of the family chapel of Santa Maria Maggiore and that of the SS. Sacramento in Laterano. This was the start of an intense collaboration that accompanied the artist for over twenty-five years, until his death in 1785...

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But what the show wants to enhance is the truly unique possibility of admiring the works of the great craftsman within a decorative context, such as that of the Villa Borghese, capable of restoring, in itself, that particular co-presence of painters, sculptors and artisans that the architect Antonio Asprucci had directed in the renovation of the city Palace and of the Villa wanted by the prince Marc'Antonio IV Borghese; artists who, in the same years, had not only shared many of the main Roman artistic enterprises but whose direct relations with Luigi Valadier are widely documented: it is the case, just to give an example, of the marble carver Lorenzo Cardelli, already in the workshop of Piranesi, who with the great goldsmith will collaborate as much in the execution of the fireplace in Room XVI, decorated with bronze applications by Valadier, as in the creation of artifacts destined for Anglo-Saxon clients.

The Villa, which houses some of the masterpieces, such as the Erma di Bacco and the pair of dodecagonal tables, summarizes the dominant taste in Rome around the middle of the century, where the refined decorative apparatuses shine with a declining rococo that coexists with the new stylistic trends inspired by the ancient. Valadier is the absolute protagonist of this particular cultural context, in the broadest sense.

If the client Borghese was the leitmotif of Valadier's activity, the rank and number of the clients reveal the extraordinary success of his career as a goldsmith and silversmith, enhancing the vastness of the field, the originality and the international imprint of his production , which the exhibition intends to represent with important testimonies. Loans range from the large silver lamps for the sanctuary of Santiago de Compostela, to the San Giovanni Battista of the Lateran Baptistery, for the first time visible outside their original location; from the pontifical service of the cathedral of Muro Lucano to the sculptures of the cathedral of Monreale; and, again, bronze reproductions of famous ancient statues for King Gustav III of Sweden, Madame du Barry and the Count of Orsay will be exhibited; the admirable support of the cameo of Augustus, commissioned by Pius VI for the Sacred and Profane Museum in the Vatican, in addition to the extraordinary inventions of the superb desert, like the one commissioned by the Balì of Breteuil and then sold to Catherine II of Russia, today in San Petersburg, and the reconstruction of the temple of Isis in Pompeii for Maria Carolina of Austria.

An important section will be devoted to drawings, a fundamental tool to understand the evolution of Valadier's creative process and its translation through the activity of the large and articulated workshop. The precious volume of the Municipal Picture Gallery of Faenza, for the first time entirely cataloged on the occasion of the exhibition, offers a varied review, which will be appreciated also through digital reproductions. The drawings also offer the testimony of works dispersed today, such as the sumptuous gilded silver service created for the Borghese, whose few objects that have reached us will be gathered on this occasion.

On display will be some multimedia totems dedicated to the Places of Luigi Valadier in Rome: sites, churches, palaces and environments that preserve his works or in any case significant ones, such as the home-studio in Via del Babuino. An invitation to transfer this virtual path into reality, to better understand that "Roman" Valadier, decorator in the most splendid and "modern" Villa of delights of the eternal city, but an expression of that international taste that started from Rome to spread a sought after taste
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