On November 4th, 1966, the city of Florence faced one of the worst floods recorded since the Renaissance. After days of severe and heavy rainfall, the Arno river flooded the Tuscan streets. Along with the thousands of masterpieces of art and rare books, tons of mud, rubble and sewage severely damaged or destroyed the artifacts in the very churches they adorned.
A particularly wealthy man took notice of the church artifacts floating through the streets. He and his servants began to gather and collect as many gilded antiquities as they could. He had a monastery up the hill that they filled with all of the fragments. This monastery remained completely closed for about thirty years.
About 15 years ago, they allowed only a few select dealers in. Within a matter of 5 or 6 years, this man's stock had entirely depleted, and no one was able to buy any more. Years ago I began to take interest and buy these fragments out of my own fascination. Now, I have had great difficulty finding any more.
These relics have been used for decorators and designers alike to copy for distressed accessories, but here we have them, the originals. While many of our fragment artifacts are distressed due to age, these Florence fragments in particular stand apart. They symbolize a history that has been carried through the streets of Italy, to the monastery, to the modern home.
Each one has been recreated and reveals a new interpretation.
What was submerged and stripped of its color and meaning still retains its history and beauty. What was weathered and worn is now reimagined and reborn.
What was lost is now found.
To access to this collection, go to Florence Fragments
In 1883 in Milan there was operating a society of mutual aid among the Italian gilding, varnisher workers. At the same time the Guide of Milan listed under the category of Decorators, plasterers and ornamentalist thirty studios and craftsman workshops, everyone with their own specialty. In 1892 among the painters, decorators, plasterers and gilding varnishers there were 275 companies represented by a workers union that had been formed only 9 months previously. A cooperative of stuccoers, worker in concrete, painters and plasterers offered its services for jobs and decorations for facades and interiors-decorations in chalk and in bright stuccos-pavements in (gettata) -tables, fireplaces, washbasins -bathtubs-canals, staircases, balustrades plastering and painted decorations. Over time the demands for original decorations diminished, in which the job of the painter is exclusive and personal. Still in the mid 1880’s, the great bourgeoisie and aristocracy of Milan entrusted the decoration of their own dwellings to artists of academic formation who alternated this activity with the production of paintings for official art expositions . The cooperative painters-plasterers besides the usual plastering jobs employed skilled laborers which would do nearly any type of painting.