Rome, May 20, 2009 – Bulgari celebrates the 125th Anniversary of its founding with the first retrospective in the brand’s history.Â It is scheduled to open on May 20 at the prestigious Il Palazzo delle Esposizioni in Rome; it will be open to the public from May 22 to September 13, 2009.
The exhibition, titled Between History and Eternity: 1884-2009, will cover the evolution of Bulgari design, and the most significant chapters of Bulgari’s history – from the opening of the first shop on Via Sistina in 1884 to the present.
Over five hundred spectacular works of jewelry, watchmaking and objets d’art will be displayed.Â Although most belong to Bulgari’s Historical Archives, others have been lent by private collectors from all around the world, and many of the pieces have never before been displayed in public. The retrospective will also feature a collection of never-before seen sketches, drawings and photographs of artists, aristocrats and celebrities who have worn Bulgari over the years.
The exhibition will be organized in eight chronological galleries.Â The first will feature a collection of silver works from the late 19th century crafted by Sotirio Bulgari, the ingenious and enterprising Greek silversmith who founded the company.Â He moved to Rome in search of fortune, and in 1884 laid the foundation for what would become one of the world’s premiere jewelers. These artifacts are the only existing examples of Bulgari’s earliest production.
Next will be a section dedicated to a series of Art DecÃ²-inspired diamond jewels from the 1920s and 1930s that demonstrate the great success the company had achieved under the leadership of (Sotirio’s sons), Giorgio and Costantino Bulgari.
The third gallery will feature creations from the 1940s and 1950s, a period when Bulgari was heavily influenced by French jewelry design.
Then there will be a section dedicated to the 1960s.Â This decade marked a momentous shift in Bulgari’s identity:Â they began creating jewels with distinctive and stylized designs, bold volume and unprecedented color combinations – all characteristics that have henceforth remained unmistakable Bulgari style.
The three subsequent galleries will host, respectively, the creations of the 1970s, strongly influenced by Pop Art; the 1980s, distinguished by bold and innovative design; and the 1990s.
The last section of the exhibition will be installed in the main gallery of the Palazzo, and will highlight some of the most magnificent creations of the new millennium, including a sumptuous diamond necklace valued at over 20 million euros. These pieces attest to the fact that Bulgari, now in its fourth generation, has achieved timeless continuity and success.
Several of the galleries will feature special sections devoted to particularly significant moments in the evolution of the Bulgari style.Â These include the gemme nummarie, or coin jewelry, the serpent motif, and the BVLGARI logo, all historical classics that Bulgari has masterfully reinterpreted over the years.
Another will be dedicated to the la dolce vita years, and will illustrate the close ties between Bulgari and the film industry that date back to the 1940s.Â It will include spectacular jewels worn by famous actresses of the time, including Anna Magnani and Gina Lollobrigida.Â An entire room will be reserved for Elizabeth Taylor’s personal Bulgari collection: sixteen extraordinary, one-of-a-kind pieces of enormous value, each with its own story. Especially noteworthy is the diamond and 18ct emerald brooch that Richard Burton gave Taylor as an engagement present in 1962. Â It would become the only piece of jewelry that the actress wore for her first wedding with Burton on March 15, 1964.
The exhibition’s curator, Amanda Triossi, has been Director of the Bulgari Historical Archives since 1997.Â She is the author of two editions of BVLGARI (1995 and 2007), the book dedicated to the company’s history. Â Triossi is also the author of the exhibition catalogue, which includes 320 richly illustrated pages of documentation and photographs, published by Skira.
Images from the star studded event: