Castellani and Giuliano.

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Giuliano at Wartski

Castellani aluminium paper knife

An aluminium, gold and gem-set paper knife
in the form of a Roman dagger by Castellani

 

No nineteenth-century lady of fashion visiting Italy would consider her tour of Rome complete without calling at Castellani's shop near the Spanish Steps to acquire one of the famous pieces of Italian Archaeological jewellery offered there. The Castellani family considered mid-nineteenth-century jewellery design to be in such a parlous state that the only way to renew its vitality was to turn to the past for inspiration. The Etruscan, Greek and Roman jewellers were admired for their mastery of precious metalworking techniques and the freedom of inspiration that this allowed them. In homage to their predecessors, the Castellani family assembled a considerable collection of ancient jewellery and gems, which provided valuable source material for their own work.

The firm was founded by Fortunato Pio Castellani (1794-1865) and was continued by his sons, Augusto (1829-1914) and Alessandro (1823-1883). It eventually passed to Alfredo Castellani and closed when he died in 1930. Their celebrated clientele included Napoleon III, Prince Albert, and Queen Victoria's daughter, Empress Frederick of Prussia. Amongst the more important commissions given to Castellani were the presentation swords subscribed for by the citizens of Rome and made to be given in gratitude to Napoleon III and King Victor Emmanuel II. They were secretly viewed by Mr and Mrs. Robert Browning during a visit to Rome in 1859.

In the early 1860's Alessandro Castellani opened a branch of the firm in Paris and another at 13 Frith Street, London. The firm was quickly to acquire an independent reputation under its manager Carlo Giuliano (1832-1895) and, after his death, control of the business passed to his son, Arthur Giuliano (1864-1914). At first jewellery was made for resale to prominent retail houses, but in 1874 Giuliano opened shop at 115 Piccadilly and won the patronage of Queen Victoria, and later, of King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra. Giuliano's work was also popular amongst the artistic community, and the firm was asked to make up jewellery to the designs of Sir Edward Burne-Jones and Charles Ricketts, the book illustrator. William Holman-Hunt also shopped there, and there is strong evidence to suggest that Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema used jewels by Giuliano in his work derived from Classical sources. The interest in these two firms lies both in their use of a fascinating range of materials and techniques and in their interpretation of antique sources to create jewellery in the spirit of nineteenth-century eclecticism.

Geoffrey Munn, Managing Director of Wartski has written the main survey of their work Castellani and Giuliano: Revivalist Jewellers of the Nineteenth Century.

Click here to Castellani and
Giuliano at Wartski