A wooden paperknife, by Michelangelo Caetani, Rome, circa 1845

The carved boxwood paperknife designed as a robed angel standing on a globe, the wings forming the blade. Michelangelo Caetani (1804-1882) the Duke of Sermoneta was a friend and patron of Castellani and the relationship was pivotal for the history of the firm. The first encounter occurred in 1826 at a lecture given by Fortunato Pio to an illustrious group of scholars in Rome.  Although only twenty-two at the time, Caetani was already well known as a literary scholar, historian, aesthete and amateur artisan in wood, achieving such proficiency in turning wood that he made almost all his own furniture. Alessandro and Augusto Castellani credit Caetani as the one who initially gave their father the idea of seeking out ancient jewellery for inspiration.  Throughout the years the friendship between Caetani and the entire Castellani family went far beyond business and he was considered their personal, as well as artistic, mentor. In his book ‘Castellani's Castellani and Giuliano, Revivalist Jewelers of the 19th century’, Geoffrey Munn quotes from a letter written by one of Castellani’s English customers, Harriet Countess Granville, to her brother, the 6th Duke of Devonshire, from Rome: "The novelites here are now things made from designs by Michelangelo Caetani - there are leaf openers, one an angel, another a devil. Castellani makes them in silver a hundred francs each. " Literature: Cf. Susan Webber Soros and Stefanie Walker, Castellani and Italian Archaeological Jewelry, published for The Bard Graduate Centre, New York, on the occasion of the same-named exhibition which ran in New York November 2004 – February 2005, Somerset House, London, May – September 2005 and Villa Giulia, Rome, November 2005 – February 2006, page 42 fig. 2-14 for a photo of a paperknife of the same design presented in this exhibition. Cf. Geoffrey C Munn, Castellani and Giuliano, Revivalist Jewelers of the 19th century, Wartski London March 1984, plates 39-40.


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