Renzo Cassetti Gruppo Cassetti The Ponte Vecchio And The Vasari Corridor
This post is paying tribute to Renzo Cassetti, the Cassetti family, Cellini and the superb art and architecture of Italy.
According to the Cassetti literature this exciting atelier was founded in 1929. Renzo Cassetti was inspired by the work of the master goldsmith, sculptor and artist Benvenuto Cellini (November 3 1500 - February 13 1571).
Perhaps the most famous work of Cellini was his bronze sculpture of Perseus atop the slain Medusa (1545 - 1554). This masterpiece is located at the Loggia dei Lanzi in the Piazza della Signoria, Florence, Italy.
The piece was commissioned by Duke Cosimo I de' Medici.
Naturally you would expect one of Italy’s most prestigious jewellery concerns, Gruppo Cassetti, to have premises located on the world famous Ponte Vecchio. Four Cassetti shops are located at this site. The Ponte Vecchio is the oldest bridge in the city of Florence. It is the only bridge in Florence that was not blown up in World War II by the retreating Italian forces. It is believed that Mussolini ordered that it should not be destroyed as so many important art works were being stored there. Five hundred years ago bridges across large rivers were not like the bridges we are used to in modern times. These structures were populated with homes, businesses and shops. The Ponte Vecchio still has many ancient buildings along its length. Five centuries ago these premises would have included goldsmiths, butchers and bakers.
The Vasari Corridor can be seen in the image above. The little square windows above the shops enable people traversing the corridor to view the city and its picturesque surroundings.
The Vasari Corridor is a walkway which connects the Palazzo Pitti to the Palazzo Vecchio, which was then known as the Palazzo della Signori.
We would love to know the original source of the diagram above so that we can acknowledge the artist / source. We would also like a better image in order to be able to see the notes referring to this delightful structure.
The Vasari Corridor was named after its designer Giorgio Vasari. The structure is one kilometre long and took five months to build. It was built on the orders of Duke Cosimo de' Medici in 1565. The Grand Duke desired the greater security the corridor offered to him when travelling between his residential palace (Palazzo Pitti) and the government palace. The Grand Duke had replaced the Republic of Florence and he feared assassination.
In 1593, Ferdinand I de’ Medici was so offended by the odours rising from the businesses on the Ponte Vecchio that he decreed the bridge was only to be given over to gold and silversmiths.
In the twenty-first century this area is still famous for its jewellers.
In this and the previous two centuries the tourist trade has been a vital source of venue.
The corridor was closed for safety reasons in 2016. It is set to re-open for tourists on May 27, 2022. It currently contains one the largest and oldest collections of self-portraits in the world. Busts on splendid marble plinths can be seen along its length.
The original Cassetti workshop (atelier) was situated close to the Ponte Vecchio.
Renzo Cassetti vanities and compact mirrors are likely to date the 1950s. It was during this time that Cassetti’s daughter Maria Grazia Cassetti joined her father in business. The incorporation of crystal and silver with porcelain are attributed to Maria’s influence. The expansion of the collection necessitated the relocation of the atelier to larger premises situated on Viale dei Colli.
As you would imagine the Ponte Vecchio is one of the most fashionable and lucrative sites for jewellery shops in Italy. Prior to the Covid-19 outbreak world famous and exclusive brands would have attracted many customers and large revenues. Gruppo Cassetti’s contract with Rolex saw their store reopen at the earliest possible date (18 May 2021).
Stunning views can be seen from the windows of the Cassetti specialist Rolex store. This splendid building is fitted with ornate wall plaques.
In the twenty-first century small family goldsmiths have had to adapt to be able to afford the huge rents charged for the privileged location on the Ponte Vecchio. This often involves joining forces with global market leaders.
Cassetti is a global enterprise and official dealer to many of the world's most exclusive brands such as Rolex, Chopard, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Crivelli, Messika, Pomellato.
Gruppo Cassetti is headquartered at Scandicci (Tuscany) with Cassetti Atelier specialising in luxurious gifts crafted from precious metals and other luxurious materials. Bespoke tableware, jewellery and exclusive designs have proven to be most popular in the wedding sector.
The most exclusive regions in Italy are graced with Cassetti stores:-
Ponte Vecchio 54 / R - Florence.
Via Carducci, 6D - Forte dei Marmi.
Via Garibaldi 121-123 59100 Prato.
Maria Grazia Cassetti and Andrea have been joined by Filippo and Lorenzo.
Filippo Cassetti Burchi is responsible for the business development of the company.
The third generation of the Cassetti family are ensuring that the foreign markets are expanded.
The firm is divided into:-
Cassetti Silverware, Jewellery & Boutiques.
For almost one hundred years the Cassetti family have been focused on crafting and marketing luxurious jewellery and silver accessories.
Renzo Cassetti Vanities
An outstandingly beautiful and luxurious fully hallmarked .800 silver compact mirror created by Renzo Cassetti in the 1950s. The case is superbly executed. It is a joy to behold! The master silversmith has rendered all exterior surfaces with a non-reflective etched design which will not require cleaning. Its prepossessing appearance will last many life times.
The .800 silver etched designs shimmer as they catch the light - similar to the manner in which Shantung silk does. Enchanting floral motifs, hand engraved borders and the ornate thumb catch add to the elegant appeal of this splendid accessory.
Mid-century Italian silver vanities can not be confused with those which were created in another country. The Italians are the masters of bright-cut engraving. Florid embellishments often adorn all the outer surfaces, as we see on the hallmarked silver compact shown above. Floral motifs, flower baskets full of cool silver blooms and symbolic imagery are typically chosen by the Italian silversmith.
The splendid luxury compact mirror shown above is crafted in the shape of a magnificent clam-shell. This accessory was made by the master silversmith Renzo Cassetti c.1950 and assayed at Firenze (Florence).
210 FI HALLMARK
The maker’s mark 210 is visible on the mirror bezel along with the 800 stamp denoting .800 silver and the word ITALY. The affix of FI denotes Firenze as being the place of assay. The mirror bezel is often the chosen location for Italian silversmiths to hallmark their silver vanities. Italian hallmarks are usually quite large, unlike French marks and so we can often assign a piece to the maker.
This item comprises entirely of ornate fully hallmarked .800 silver with bright-cut engravings to all exterior surfaces. This style of engraving gives the compact a mesmerising beauty, as the hand engraved design reflects the light so that it appears to dance on its lid and base.
The lid and base have intricate designs formed from the depiction of many acanthus leaves. The acanthus leaf symbolizes immortality and enduring life in many cultures. Tombs and buildings have been adorned with acanthus leaves since the 5th century BC.
The base has a single line border following the shape of the case which is typical for this maker.
Many Cassetti compact mirrors were originally crafted for use with loose face powder which would have been placed under a sifter gauze.
If the original sifter is no longer being present the compact makes an ideal collectible for display.
This type of silver compact is also suitable as a robust and beautiful accessory.
The bright-cut engravings and workmanship ensure that this vanity will look attractive for many decades. Bright-cut engraving is such a practical and prepossessing style, as it prevents the appearance of fingerprints.
A typical Cassetti vanity embellished with acanthus leaves and forget-me-nots.
After WWII tourist pieces (powder compacts) were crafted which include enamel copies of famous masterpieces or the artist's interpretation of it. These are often romantic pastoral scenes. The scenes are often reproduced by artists who have great skill. Some of the reproductions are a little crude. The most obvious example is the lack of detail on the subjects’ faces. All are charming and many are highly desirable and valuable collectors’ pieces. Some dealers attempt to pass these delightful vanities off as being made in the 1800s, which they are certainly not.
Care of 800 silver compact mirrors:
We adore 800 silver! This grade of silver can acquire the most splendid patina over time. Tastes vary and many collectors prefer never to clean their collectibles. Some antiques crafted hundreds of years ago which consist of 800 silver can become dark brown over time if they have never been cleaned.
Collectors who desire sparkling clean silver antiques can achieve this by using a good quality silver polish possibly less than once a year.
However, often no polish is needed.
The mirror glass and compact can be polished with a soft dry cloth without any polish to achieve a long lasting shine. The interior base is known as the powder well. Cassetti has rendered the silver powder well to be non-reflective. In order to retain this non-reflective finish the powder well should not be cleaned with silver polish. Wiping with a soft cloth is sufficient.
This is an exquisitely beautiful & rare solid silver minaudiere. A high quality luxury item. The whole vanity case is hallmarked 800 silver. The case also bears the maker's mark '210 FI' Renzo Cassetti. The lid, base & all sides have the most beautiful hand engraved flowers & foliage. There is a powder well with an engraved lid. Another compartment is suitable as a card or paper money holder. The engraving on the money clip & inner lid match perfectly. The solid silver mirror bezel and powder well are hallmarked. Measures 11 cm x almost 8.5 cm & weighs 367 grams.