Giovanni Giardini


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(b Forlì, 1646; d Rome, 1721). Italian draughtsman, silversmith, bronze-caster and gem-carver. Between 1665 and 1668 he was apprenticed to the silversmith Marco Gamberucci (fl 1656-80) in Rome. He ran a productive workshop, in which he was joined in 1680 by his brother Alessandro Giardini (b 1655). In 1698 he was appointed bronze-founder for the Papacy. Only a few of his works in silver have survived, most of them church furnishings that escaped the depredations of the Napoleonic army. These show a strong sense of form and a technical mastery that earned him important commissions from the papal court, including an imposing papal mace in silver and parcel-gilt (c. 1696; London, V&A), a tabernacle in silver, gilt copper, porphyry and rock-crystal (1711; Vienna, Ksthist. Mus.) and a cross and two candlesticks in silver and malachite (1720; Pavia, priv. col.), which were made for the chapel of Cardinal Francesco Barberini in St Peter's, Rome. When the body of Queen Christina of Sweden was exhumed in 1965 in St Peter's, a set of pieces by Giardini was found: the Queen's silver sceptre, crown and funerary mask of 1689 (Rome, St Peter's). Giardini's reputation, however, is based on his pattern-book designs for sacred and secular objects, which were published in Prague as Disegni diversi (1714) and in Rome as Promptuarium artis argentariae (1750); these designs were the most important source of inspiration for Roman artistic silver production throughout the 18th century, and they continued to be influential into the 19th.

From The Grove Encyclopedia of Decorative Arts in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Decorative Arts, Furniture, and Industrial Design.

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