Bulgari celebrates '125 years of Italian Magnificence' at the Grand Palais

On December 9, 2010, the Grand Palais will host the opening of a retrospective exhibition devoted to Bulgari, the Roman jewellery house that celebrated its 125th anniversary last year. Housed in the museum's nave, the exhibition has been organized under the high patronage of the Office of the President of the Italian Republic and the Italian Prime Minister's Office, and will be open to the public from December 10 through to January 12.

Bulgati's necklace made with gold, tourmalines, peridots, iolites, quartz, topazes, pearls and diamonds

Entitled "125 years of Italian Magnificence," the exhibition will retrace the main chapters in Bulgari's history and the evolution of the brand’s esthetic, from the opening of the first shop on Via Sistina in 1884 through the modern day. This saga will be illustrated by more than 600 masterpieces of jewellery, watch and clockmaking, and the decorative arts, including some one hundred exclusive pieces that will be on public display for the first time.

Certain pieces come from the collection of the Bulgari Museum, while others are from private collections. The exhibition consists of eight sections arranged in chronological order. The visitor's path will start with a collection of silver objects created in the late 19th century by Sotirio Bulgari, a Greek silversmith blessed with a creative mind and keen business sense. Having come to Rome to seek his fortune, in 1884 he laid the foundation of what was to become one of the world's greatest jewellery houses.

Next, visitors will discover a space dedicated to the designs of the 1920s and 1930s. These pieces, a series of diamond jewels inspired by the art deco movement, reflect the huge success enjoyed by the house, which was then headed by the founder's two sons, Giorgio and Costantino Bulgari. The next room will present creations from the 1940s and 1950s, a period during which Bulgari's designs were heavily influenced by French jewellery styles.

This will be followed by a section devoted to the 1960s, a decade marked by a radical change that would prove crucial in defining the house's identity. It was during these years that Bulgari developed the distinctive features that would make the brand world-famous: bold, stylized forms, understated volumes and strikingly original color combinations defined an inimitable style, a genuine "Italian school" of jewelry that contrasted with the more classical French jewelry.

The next three rooms will house creations from the 1970s, very much influenced by pop art and praised by Andy Warhol, the 1980s, a time of daring, inventive design inspired by the Italian Renaissance, and the 1990s, characterized by unexpected combinations of materials as well as the introduction of a "ready-to-wear" concept of jewelry.

The retrospective will also showcase a collection of documents, many on public display for the first time, including sketches and drawings from various periods as well as a selection of photos of the artists, aristocrats and celebrities who have fallen under the charm of the house's jewelry since its founding. A separate room will be exclusively devoted to the fabulous private collection of Elizabeth Taylor, never before seen in France. This will be an exceptional opportunity to admire some of Bulgari's most extraordinary creations: 16 one-of-a-kind pieces of nearly inestimable value, each with its own history.

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