New York City, NY
This exhibition will be dedicated to the extraordinary set of 12 silver-gilt standing cups known collectively as the Aldobrandini Tazze. The tazze will be reunited and displayed together for the first time since the mid-19th century, when the objects were disassembled and dispersed, their constituent parts misidentified and mismatched. The exhibition will thus provide visitors with a rare opportunity to appreciate one of the finest and most enigmatic monuments of 16th-century goldsmiths' work. Properly reassembled, the tazze bring to life the history of the first 12 Caesars, as recounted by the Roman historian Suetonius. Each stands over a foot high and is composed of a shallow footed dish surmounted by the figure of one of the Caesars; four scenes from Suetonius's Life of the relevant ruler appear intricately wrought upon the concave interior of each dish.
The Silver Caesars will highlight the elegance and erudition of the tazze, presenting them together with a small selection of relevant works in silver as well as in other media—including both ancient and Renaissance coins and medals, and Renaissance prints, books, and paintings. The exhibition will also address the set's later history by presenting 18th- and 19th-century works that the tazze inspired. In addition to offering new insights into the tazze and their history, the exhibition will also explore the set's famously mysterious reputation—engaging the visitor in tracing clues that may lead to a better understanding of this Renaissance masterpiece.
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website
Whether or not you go, The Silver Caesars: A Renaissance Mystery explores the persistent questions that swirl around these unique silver dishes, including where, when, and for whom they were originally made, what they were used for, and why the set was separated and scattered. The Aldobrandini Tazze–magnificent examples of 16th-century European goldsmithing in size, design, and quality of execution – feature figures and scenes from Roman historian Suetonius’s classic work The Twelve Caesars, all rendered in minute, intricate relief. Dispersed in the 1860s, the tazze were reunited in 2014 for the first time since the 19th century, each piece newly photographed to highlight the dazzling detail and show the works as they were originally made. The accompanying essays, written by a team of scholars from around the world, explore the persistent questions that swirl around these unique silver dishes, including where, when, and for whom they were originally made, what they were used for, and why the set was separated and scattered.
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