Exibitions & Events

Colonial beverages
Silverware and Salons in Eighteenth-century Italy

Tea, Coffee and Chocolate

In a year when Italy occupies centre stage in the world for everything to do with nourishment, as it is hosting Expo 2015 “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life”, the Basilica of St Francis present an exhibition that continues the sweeping scope of investigations into the work of goldsmiths, for which Arezzo is an international capital, making an important selection of eighteenth-century silverware, paintings and antique herbalist books to focus light on the history and diffusion in Italy in the Eighteenth-Century, of the “colonial beverages”: tea, coffee and chocolate.

The main section of the exhibition is devoted to displaying the magnificent silverware recipients made for these colonial beverages: some forty pieces are on show here, including teapots, coffeepots and chocolate pots, as well as other silverware accessories used with them, such as trembleuses, sugar bowls, teaspoons and cake trays. This section is classified by the various Italian manufactories, showing the most important brands of eighteenth-century Italian silverware: Tuscany, Sicily, Sardinia, Emilia Romagna, Rome, Venice, Naples, Genoa, Turin and Milan.

Visitors to the exhibition can also admire a selection of eighteenth-century paintings, prints and antique herbal books, on loan both from museum holdings and from important private collections. Outstanding among the paintings is the comparison between a Venetian Coffee Shop, the work of a pupil of Piero Longhi, loaned by Palazzo Leoni Montanari in Vicenza, and a Coffee Room in Rome, by Gaetano Piccini, on loan from the National Gallery of Antique Art in Palazzo Barberini, Rome; two doors of a dresser from an old coffee house in Verona, depicting a pair of Waiters, now held by the Gallery of Modern Art in Palazzo Forti, Verona; a plaque painted by Luigi Scherf depicting Liotard’s world-famous Chocolate Girl, the Altar Piece of the Consoled by Ridolfo Paganelli from the Accademia della Crusca and several enjoyable genre scenes, including The Concealed Lover and the Indiscreet Dog, also from Palazzo Barberini, and a Singer at the Spinet with Admirers by Giuseppe Maria Crespi, on loan from the Uffizi Gallery in Florence.

The tone of the exhibition is enriched by several unusual eighteenth-century musical instruments (an archlute and a spinet), furnishings (trumeaux, cupboards, tables, chairs and mirrors) and objects, including a delicious little mechanical theatre with three musicians and a surprising “magic lantern”, an optical device that enabled observers to see imaginary three-dimensional scenes.

Also, visitors can follow a sensory visual, olfactory and tactile route to discover tea, coffee and chocolate.

The exhibition was organized in collaboration with:

And with the help of

Special thanks to