Silk Gold Kermes

Secrets and technology at the Visconti and Sforza Courts
29 October 2009 – 21 February 2010

Curated by Chiara Buss and Annalisa Zanni.
Sponsor: Lanificio Vitale Barberis Canonico, Fondazione Cariplo, Banca Regionale Europea, Regione Lombardia, Camera di Commercio di Milano, Camera di Commercio di Como e Confindustria Como.
Exhibition design Luca Rolla with Roozbeh Naghshineh
Lighting design: Studio Ferrara Palladino 
 
The exhibition Silk Gold and Kermes. Secrets and Technology at the Visconti and Sforza Courts shows the outstanding artistic production connected to the silk manufacturing in the second half of the 15th century. About fifty works (velvets and damasks, mostly gold and silver brocaded, embroidery with gold and pearls, playing cards, illuminated manuscripts, paintings) illustrate the link between lavishness and technology in the Milanese production, giving evidence to the origins and development of a new textile manufacturing of an extraordinary quality.
 
The exhibition presents the cultural and social background of the Visconti and Sforza court. The show points out the qualities of a town able to encourage and attract skilled workers as well as to develop new technologies. These qualities, typical of the Milanese entrepreneurship may offer new inspiration to the European textile production.
 
In the exhibition Kermes plays a very important role. This dyestuff, made of cochineal insects, with its countless red nuances gives evidence of the refined taste of the Lombard silk workers as well as of the complex economy of time. Millions and millions cochineals from Eastern and Mediterranean countries were traded also in distant markets, from Baghdad to the Black Sea. This highly priced and expensive dyestuff was everywhere considered a criterion to determine the textiles’ quality and value.

 

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