Saturday, September 20, 2014

Venice: Palazzo Mocenigo – Little Big Things Exhibition

Venice: Palazzo Mocenigo – Little Big Things Exhibition. At Palazzo Mocenigo, Study Centre of the History of Fabrics and Costumes, the exhibition Little Big Things, Masterpieces from the Storp Collection, until January 6, 2015. The Storp family, which founded Drom Fragrances in 1911 in Munich, Germany, amassed a rare and very important collection of flacons and perfume bottles over the generations, a collection that today includes more than three thousand pieces spanning six thousand years of history.  The exhibition underlines the fundamental role played by Venice in the origins of perfume in terms of aesthetics, cosmetics and commerce, and is highlighted in the new section of the museum dedicated to perfume. Exclusive works of art, these tiny yet precious containers celebrate an ancient art that developed in the Middle East and then spread to Greece and Rome, before returning to Asia and back to Venice at the time of the Crusades. In the magical setting of Palazzo Mocenigo, four sections, representing all eras, ranges from extremely rare antique pieces such as a terracotta Egyptian oil jar from the third or second century BC, glass flacons and cases, porcelain, and biscuits dating from the 16th to 19th century to an extraordinary satin glass bottle designed by Salvador Dali and the most famous noteworthy creations by today’s major perfume and essence companies.
Above. Linetti, Notte Di Venezia – 1948 – glass, earthenware. Decorative Model in enameled earthenware made by Ker-Artis in Padua featuring a gondola with two poles, with the glass bottle seated in the boat like a passenger.

Little Big Things. Dr Ferdinand Storp, who with his brother Dr. Andreas Storp co-manages Drom Fragrances.   The Storp Collection was started by Dr. Ferdinand’s grandmother, Dora in 1921, he took over from his mother, Ursula who dedicated her life to maintaining and enhancing it.  He describes this special collaboration: “Venice as a city of the arts and craftsmanship provides the perfect stage for this outstanding exhibition of flacon bottles, all being relevant pieces of art and craftsmanship.  The fascinating thing about these scent bottles, is, that they are still able to tell the same story that the fragrance inside these treasures told in their time.   The fragrance may have evaporated hundreds of years ago on the velvet skin of a beautiful lady, but you can still see the flacon and you can imagine her story.   Which is another parallel to Venice where every building, every corner, every stone is telling its own history.  Therefore we are happy that the exhibition Little Big Things will add some more precious facets to the history of perfume shown in this beautiful museum here in Venice.”

Little Big Things – The Divine.

This section presents some exceptional pieces from antiquity and the pre-classical era, illustrated using well-known mythological figures, a source of inspiration for the most successful perfume brands and an allegory of angels, cherubs, and putti.

Ointment Oil Vessel – Egypt (Syrian influence ?) – 300 B.C., Black Clay in the shape of porcupine. 
Ring Aryballos – Corinth, Greece – 6th Century B.C., clay with an ornament of two horse riders.

Little Big Things - The Divine 

Vial – Provincial Rome – 2nd Cent. A.D. - glass – slender vial with broad opening, made in green glass.
Perfume Bottle – North East Persia – 8-10th Cent. A.D. – glass – slightly drop-shaped glass with elongated neck made of grey-pink glass with dark coating, “eggplant bottle”.
Ointment Oil Vessel – Persia - 9-10th Cent. A.D. – glass – oil vessel made of emerald green iridescent glass with cutted decoration.
Perfume Bottle – North East Persia – 8-10th Cent. A.D. – glass – bellied bottle with long slender foot and elongated neck made of iridescent blue glass.

Little Big Things - The Divine 
CotyAmbre Antique – 1910 – glass – glass bottle in the shape of an alabaster showing four women draped in gowns, as inspired by Greek mythology.

Little Big Things - The Divine – The Angel’s Share

Angels, cherubs, putti, and chubby children inspired by ancient Greek mythology, symbolizing Love and the Divine, have fed the imagination of many creative perfumers.   These little people with rotund body shape can be found represented in many bucolic and jocular scenes on porcelain bottles and porcelain biscuit trinket boxes from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.  This symbol of divinity nevertheless leaves room for a little frivolity and the power of seduction of seemingly innocent young women. 

Little Big Things - Love

This section presents the most classic and essential subject from the Enlightenment to the present day. Especially during the Age of Reason, perfumes and their containers become “accomplices” of seduction, the language of love, and gallantry. During the industrial revolution in the mid-nineteenth century, rival brands competed to come up with ways to portray love, continuing to this day, where it resonates with all its past incarnations. Visitors have the rare privilege of discovering the best pieces of the Worth perfume brand, which tell the exciting story of love in its most poetic form.
   “In the night, just before dawn, because I cannot bear to say goodbye, I will return to you.”  
 This story of romantic love was the inspiration for Worth perfumes for tens years and gave birth to Dans La Nuit, 1924 – Vers Le Jour, 1927 – Sans Adieu, 1929 – Je Reviens, 1932 and Vers Toi, 1933.  Each of these perfumes tells one chapter of this love story. All bottles design Rene Lalique.

Little Big Things – Love
Scent Bottle – Germany – 18th Cent. – crystal glass, silver – sophisticated flacon jewel in the shape of a heart suspended from a silver chatelaine ornamented with a crown and angels. This perfumed jewel was traditionally worn by young women in the Bavarian bourgeoisie during the nineteenth century.  Here, we can see how very modern it was for its time, with its magnificence and baroque sophistication echoing our own fragility.

Little Big Things – Love
 2 Pisseuse a Parfum – France – end 19th Cent. – porcelain, plastic – female figure lying in an erotic pose.

  Little Big Things – Love

Paul Poiret – Mon Peche – 1926 – glass – black glass art deco style bottle decorated with flowers in relief. Paul Poiret was the forerunner by creating a fragrance as an accessory to complement his fashion collection.

  Palazzo Mocenigo - Little Big Things – the curator Chiara Squarcina

 Little Big Things – Love – Satirical Scenes of Monks

Very rare bottles whose exteriors recount the stories of illicit love affairs.  When retuning from the market these monks hid young women in the bales of hay that they were taking back to the monastery, to use for their own enjoyment.  The eighteenth century was a time of love in all its different forms, from the most romantic to the most risque.
Flacon – Frankenthal – Germany – 2nd half 18th Cent. – porcelain, metal – monk in brown cape with hood, with on its back a bundle of spica with a woman hidden inside, marked: “Supplies for the Monastery.”
Flacon – Frankenthal – Germany – 1760 – porcelain, copper - monk in brown cape with hood, with on its back a bundle of spica with a woman hidden inside, marked: “Supplies for the Monastery.”
Flacon – Thueringen – Germany – 19th Cent. – porcelain – monk with on its back a bundle of spica with a woman hidden inside, marked: “Supplies for the Monastery.”
Flacon – Meissen – Germany – around 1750 – porcelain, gold, silver – on grass pedestal, bare foot monk with brown frock with hood and bundle where a young girl is hidden.

 Little Big Things – Protection

The increasing spread of Christianity in the Middle Ages marked a decrease in the use of secular scents in the West. People were afraid of drinking water and the possibility of an epidemic: perfumes therefore became a protective elixir for medicinal use. Meanwhile, containers made from precious materials were worn as decorative jewelry, for instance on belts and as pendants. In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, new interpretations of the theme continued to develop, moving away from the original meaning and becoming a symbolic illustration that was either darker or, in some cases, more frivolous.
Cane with Vinaigrette – Germany or Netherlands – 19th Cent. – ebony, silver – system cane with vinaigrette with silver knob, richly decorated with reliefed flower patterns perforated at upper part with a fragranced sponge inside.

 Photograph and copyright courtesy Drom Fragrances

Little Big Things – Protection

Pomander – South Germany – End 16th Cent. – gilded and engraved silver – rare pomander with six flip-open compartments, ornamented with plants and birds and with hunting scenes.  On each compartment the ingredient name is engraved: Civet, Amber, Musk, Lemon, Rosemary, Angelica.

Little Big Things – Protection

Jean Marie Farina – Eau de Cologne – Mid-nineteenth century – glass, paper - bottle in the shape of a travel roller that Napoleon used to carry in his boots in case he got injured or became tired.

Nina Theissen and Dr. Andreas Storp

 Little Big Things – Identity

Perfumes and their containers became the most obvious way for people to express their individuality. With the development of niche perfumery, both the expression of individual personality and the desire to stand out from the crowd became fashionable in the late eighteenth century. At this time, a display case known as “The cave a parfums” allowed people to mix their own perfumes in the privacy of their living room. This trend continued into the twentieth century and led to the emergence of perfumes linked to designer companies.  Paul Poiret was the forerunner of this new genre, creating a fragrance as an accessory to complement his fashion collection. In the 80s, jewelers also began to find ways to accommodate the new demand for individual style in their creations.

Christian Dior. In February 1947, Christian Dior presented his first collection in the salons of Avenue Montaigne in Paris.  Carmel Snow, at the time the editor-in-chief of Harper’s Bazaar, coined the historic phrase grace “new look”, which characterized this bold, young, and ultra-feminine style with its clean lines and arched backs.  A designer was born, and with him his first perfume, Miss Dior, created the same year.   To mark the occasion, Christian Dior ordered a special bottle from Baccarat, an amphora with a gracefully rounded body, a light base, a prominent neck, and a tapered stopper, an image of based on the figure of eight and the corolla, both distinctive features of the new look.   Ever since the amphora has always held a prominent place at Dior and has been passionately reinterpreted in a luxurious and modern manner.

Christian Dior: Miss Dior, 1947 – Diorissimo, 1956 - Diorissimo, 1956 – Diorling, 1963 – J’Adore, 1999.

Little Big Things – Identity

Perfume Egg – France – around 1870 – mother of pearl, glass, onyx, brass – two refined shells on an onyx base containing two crystal flacons on flower decorated ring handle.

Little Big Things – Identity

Coco Chanel. For the launch of No 5 in 1921, Mademoiselle Chanel designed a particularly refined bottle that was inspired by cubism and completely out of sync with the frilly style of the time. Featuring the designer’s trademark colors, black and white, this same style has characterized Chanel perfumes up to the present day.  During World War II, however, when she had a dispute with her financiers, she abandoned this style and reinvented it in an even more successful way.  For four years, some of her rarest creations had a unique look, with cylinders instead of squares and provocative red replacing the more austere black.  This gave her a wholly new identity, but one that was still identifiably her own.
Chanel – No 31 – 1942 – glass – design produced during World War II.
Chanel – No 5 – 1950 – glass – design produced from 1950-1970.

Little Big Things – Identity

Elsa Schiaparelli. In a display dedicated to Elsa Schiaparelli, visitors can discover how the sublimation of pain can open the door to creativity and success. Following the suffering she endured as a child, Elsa was able to offer her customers a bold and utopian vision of beauty.
Schiaparelli – Le Roi Soleil – 1945 – Baccarat crystal – bottle showing three-dimensional sea view with a cap representing the rising sun.  Presented in a gold metal box in the shape of a shell.  Created just after the end of World War II, this perfume was Elsa Schiaparelli’s tribute to liberated France.
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