This lot is offered subject to a reserve, which is the confidential minimum price below which the lot will not be sold.
Proceeds from the sale of this necklace, generously consigned by Nardi for the benefit the California Chapter of Save Venice Inc., will be used to restore the early fifteenth century outdoor marble relief of The Madonna of the Trees on the facade of Palazzo Patriarcale in Campo San Pietro di Castello in Venice, Italy. Since its formation in January 2000, the California Chapter of Save Venice has been actively involved in funding the restoration of works of art in the Castello sestiere area) of Venice, including the Lando Chapel in the Church of San Pietro di Castello and the 16th century Monumental Arch attributed to Michele Sanmichele in the public gardens of Castello.
Madonna degli Alberetti Relief
Artist: Unknown, first quarter of fifteenth century
Location: Palazzo Patriarcale in Campo San Pietro di Castello
Medium: Marble, Istrian Stone, Verona Marble; (77 cm x 62 cm)
Proposed treatment: Cleaning and restoration
Sponsored by: Nardi, through the California Chapter of Save Venice
The "Madonna of the Trees" (Madonna degli Alberetti) is a marble sculpture carved in high relief and placed in a tabernacle niche of Istrian stone and Verona marble. Outdoor devotional lunettes, tabernacles, niches, and shrines such as this are typical in Venice- proof of the Venetians' piety beyond the liturgical norms of the Church. The Madonna degli Alberetti is probably not original to the Palazzo Patriarcale, as reliefs were sometimes moved if their location became unsuitable due to changes in the urban fabric of the city.
In this relief, the Madonna, embracing the Christ Child on her knee, is enthroned between two small and highly decorative trees. The emergence of techniques for portraying movement in sculpture is evident in the relief: Mary's drapery stretches to cover her extended leg while God the Father, encircled by six angels in flight, is seen above her in the act of sending the dove of the Holy Spirit.
The relief has suffered from its outdoor location and from relocations through the centuries. There are visible losses of decorative elements, and more seriously, the Christ Child is headless. Chemical analysis of the stonework will be followed by restoration procedures to clean and consolidate the relief. Cracks will be repaired and metal pins will be inserted to help hold the relief in place and to prevent further damage. A protective finish will be applied to the stonework to render it less permeable to rainwater and corroding elements.
Since 1920, the Nardi family has been one of genuine jewelers, whose lives are inextricably tied to St. Mark's Square, the social and historical center of Venice. Their store has witnessed some of the world's most famous signatures: Ernest Hemingway, Barbara Hutton, Joe di Maggio, Elton John, Arthur Rubinstein, the Royal Family of Greece, Grace Kelly and Paola of Belgium, whose blackamoor, created originally for her, is esteemed not only for the exclusivity of its design but also for the prestige of being a royal choice.
Venetian historical and literary traditions inspire Nardi's blackamoor, precious symbol of a cosmopolitan city, whose reason of being resides in the open mentality of its citizens, tolerance and exchange among peoples.