Italy of Old Artistic Photo Collection | Magic Lantern Slides

The pictures presented in our Italy of Old collection were passionately produced from Magic Lantern slides that my grandfather, Rinaldo Rosati, brought from Italy when he immigrated to America around 1900.

The glass slides present Italian culture, Italian art, Italian architecture, Italian cities and countryside, and were probably taken in the mid 1800’s by my great grandfather, Angelo Rosati.

Fond memories, a passion for Italy, and honor to our ancestors are what brought about this endeavor.

Just a little background:

As a child, my mother would bring my sister and myself to visit Grandma and Grandpa Rosati every Saturday. We would catch the 6 AM bus and arrive at their home around 8 AM. My dad was a milkman and would come to pick us up after he got off work. My grandmother would constantly tease him, speaking in Italian – he never understood what she was saying but he always came back with some made up words of his own which nobody understood and we laughed till we cried. We really enjoyed those visits and occasionally brought our friends with us. I think they came along because my grandmother made such great spaghetti sauce – however my grandfather always said he made the best sauce because he used wine which he made himself.

As a little boy, I would always “snoop” around their home to look for interesting things, like the wine press in the basement and the oak barrels where my grandfather aged his homemade wine.

Then there was the attic with some old trunks, a few boxes with old pictures, and a unique old wooden box with some strange looking glass slides in it. I never thought much about that box until one day grandpa said that someday I could have it – so, after that, it became a “prize” that I constantly asked for, but was told “when you get older.”

I never really thought about it as I got older until my grandfather passed away when I was in my twenties. I remembered what he had said about the box and at that time I finally collected my “prize.”

Again, many years passed and I occasionally looked at the slides, but nothing really clicked until we (my wife, Debbie, and kids, Baron & Juliene) visited Italy and fell in love with the people, the culture, the immense beauty, the amazing art, the unsurpassed architecture, and the cities and countryside.

The slides now had a new meaning and became our family’s labor of love.

We lovingly present these pictures for your enjoyment and to honor our Italian ancestry.

Grandma and Grandpa Rosati were such awesome loving grandparents who brought into our lives the appreciation of their Italian heritage which we carry with us today, as do our children.

The slides have been scanned, painstakingly detailed, and reproduced for all to see, and hopefully feel the extreme passion that Italy can bring into your heart.

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The Story of Glass Art and Jewelry in Murano, Italy

Italian glass jewelry can be something very special.

There is an island named Murano in the lagoon of Venice renowned for its artistic glassworks.  Its history and its destiny are wedded to the history of glass to such an extent that the very name Murano is often used as a synonym for “glass”.  This is the result of nearly a millennium of history in the course of which Murano, with its master glass workers, has contributed in transforming this simple substance, sand, into one of the most elevated expressions of art.

Watching a glass master at his work as he gives birth to his creation in the midst of flames is one of the most fascinating spectacles anyone can witness. His creation seems to be born of nothing, conjured up by a magic made of fire and a few simple gestures.  Simple in appearance, but in reality fruit of years and years of practice and continuous technical refinement, in a tradition transmitted from generation to generation across the centuries.

Glass, like so many other things in the history of mankind, was probably discovered by the chance observation that sand exposed to flames crystallizes into a vitreous substance.  The first to follow through on this observation were the Phoenicians, and by them the technique was diffused along the Mediterranean coastlines of Egypt and the Middle East.  The original crude technique consisted of pouring the melt into suitable forms to obtain a variety of containers for a variety of utilitarian purposes..  The Romans imported glassworking technology from Egypt, and one of the first important centers for the production of glass in Italy was at Aquileia, at that time an important crossroads in the trade between the Middle East and the European continent.

With the fall of the Empire the population of Aquileia and neighboring cities attempted to escape the barbarian raids by taking refuge on the islands in the Venetian lagoon.  Aquileia ceased to be an important center of commerce, and this role passed gradually to the nascent Venice.  And it is in fact from Aquileia that Venice inherited advanced glassworking techniques and, above all, the role of intermediary between the cultures of East and West, which eventually enabled it to become one of the most advanced and  refined states in Europe.  The glassworking techniques learned in the East were in fact key to the subsequent artistic and commercial success of the Venetians in this field.

The Venetian approach to the creation of glass art rests on the interpretation of glass as a plastic material to be modelled into the most refined shapes in the most varied colors WHILE HEATED, unlike other techniques which traditionally use glass as monochromatic inert matter to be eventually stamped and cut into artistic shapes.  Venetian glass is thus born of fire as art, in a process which is peculiarly Venetian and which reaches its artistic summit with with great examples of stylistic virtuosity.

The first historical document attesting to the existence of a glass industry in Venice dates back to approximately the year 1000.  By 1300 the glassworks had migrated from the city to the island of Murano, certainly for security reasons and perhaps also to better safeguard their trade secrets.  And from this date the fortunes of Murano are tied to those of its glassworks.  The art of glassworking becomes nearly the exclusive occupation of its inhabitants, who transmit their precious knowledge from father to son, resulting in the formation of veritable dynasties of master glass workers, some of which are still extant from Medieval times.  This makes Murano one on the most, and perhaps THE most, ancient production center still active today.

Murano glass, in its myriad forms and colors, ranging from the famous Murano beads to the elaborate Murano chandeliers, are precious art objects sought out by collectors the world over.  For centuries they have captivated and fascinated, and they will undoubtedly continue to exercise their allure on future generations.

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The Techniques of Italian Jewelry Designers – Italian Silver Pendants, Bracelets, Rings

Oak Cuff Bracelet
Oak Cuff Bracelet

Silver, which occurs naturally, has been one of the noble metals since antiquity, second only to gold in aesthetic and commercial value.  Pure silver is difficult to work with, so, for the production of silver jewelry, it is generally alloyed with other metals, particularly copper.  The proportions of silver to copper in what is typically called Sterling silver is 925 parts of silver and 75 parts of copper.   For this reason on the continent this type of silver is often referred to as “925 silver”.  The better silver/copper alloys are made with oxygen-free copper in order to avoid oxidation, which gives the finished products a dull and opaque appearance.  Alloys made with such oxygen-free copper are therefore whiter and brighter.


The first step in achieving a silver alloy suitable to being made into jewelry is thus the fusion of the silver and the copper.  This is generally subdivided into two distinct steps: the pre-fusion, which utilizes induction or microwave ovens, and the fusion itself, which utilizes horizontal casting ovens.  In the pre-fusion phase the two metals are placed in a graphite crucible and quickly liquefied by powerful magnetic  fields.  The temperature reached in the crucible is about 980 deg Celsius.

The second step involves the horizontal casting oven.  The molten metal is poured into a thermally isolated chamber in which the temperature is maintained at a constant 980 deg Celsius.  It is then made to flow through a cooling circuit and it is extruded as a solid in the form of a sheet about 7 mm in thickness.

The coarse sheet thus obtained is now thinned and elongated by passing it between rotating rollers, much like dough through a pasta machine.  The lamina thereby obtained typically has a thickness of 1 mm, still too thick for optimal shaping.  It is therefore pressed between a second pair of finer rollers, in a process  called finishing.  The resultant fine lamina has a thickness of about 0.25 to 0.30 mm, ideally suited to be worked by hand in the subsequent steps.  The fine lamina is now rolled up into a bundle  and cut longitudinally to yield silver ribbons of the desired size.

One complication is that, during the process of lamination, the alloy becomes brittle and susceptible to breakage.  To obviate this problem in later work the metal if recooked, i.e., brought to a high temperature and then allowed to cool.  This is done in a tunnel oven, which is a thermostatically controlled chamber in which an oxygen-free atmosphere has been introduced.  The silver lamina or ribbon is pulled through the tunnel oven while the temperature is carefully controlled.

The silver ribbons are now ready to be turned into jewelry to add allure to a beautiful woman or into art objects to add beauty and elegance to a fine home.

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Practical and Beautiful Italian Art – Original Majolica Ceramic Creations

Italian ceramics and majolica products are justly famous the world over.

Italian Ceramic VaseThe two terms are often used interchangeably, but there is a difference: technically, a ceramic is any inorganic, non-metallic solid heated to a high temperature and subsequently allowed to cool.  Traditionally the base material was clay, but this could be mixed with other materials such as quartz, feldspar, and various oxides.  The earliest known examples of ceramic art go back to the pre-Christian era in Greece and, even earlier, in the Middle East and particularly in China, where paleolithic pottery shards have been found.  Chinese porcelain, a kind of ceramic, flourished greatly in the first few centuries of the Common Era.

By contrast the manufacture of majolica is a peculiarly Italian development, tracing its origin to the northern communes of the 13th century.  The key difference is the tin glaze which is added to the ceramic surface and which gives a brilliant white covering to which metallic oxides can be applied, resulting in bright, shining, and permanent colors.  The palette includes traditionally purple, green, blue, yellow and orange, obtained respectively from manganese, copper, cobalt, antimony, and iron.

In step with so many other humanistic developments, the evolution of majolica art accelerated greatly in central Italy during the Renaissance.  The same artistic flowering that gave rise to the art Michelangelo and Raffaello elevated the artistry of majolica design to new heights.  Not only did the range of majolica products expand greatly, from the purely decorative to the frankly utilitarian, but the designs became ever more varied and intricate, true works of art achieved by the patient application, by hand, of brilliant pigments, in an unforgiving process that tolerated no mistakes.  And the advances involved not only the painting of the cooled surface: the process itself of producing and shaping the bare surface underwent considerable refinements such as improved composition, the adoption of the technique of multiple firings, and careful temperature control.

Today the manufacture of artistic majolica is practiced all over Italy, from Castellamonte in Piedmont to Caltagirone in Sicily.  The range of applications is enormous, from purely decorative sculptures to practical yet exquisitely beautiful kitchen appliances, from luminous tiles that seem to shine with an inner light to sanitary appliances to imaginatively designed objets d’art and accent pieces which unite beauty of form with brilliance of colors.  Indeed, in architecture and interior decor, the term “Mediterranean” is nearly synonymous with the liberal use of majolica.  And every Italian household guards jealously its patrimony of richly decorated majolica vases, wall plates, dishes, etc., often transmitted across several generations.

Indulge yourself: all over Italy there are ceramics and majolica factories, often little more than traditional family enterprises, that will give you a tour of their facilities upon request.  Alternatively, and as a purely stopgap measure, feast your senses on the images we bring you on this website: they are sweet candy for your eyes, and aesthetic balm for your soul.

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Italian Art from Roman Times to the End of the Renaissance

Pre-Roman Art in Italy

Venezia Impressionista Italian ArtBefore Rome started her expansion on the Italian peninsula, notable works of art were being produced by the Etruscans, dominant in Central Italy, and by the Greek colonists who had settled along the coastlines of Southern Italy.  The artistic expressions and techniques of the Hellenized parts of Italy  followed closely those of the mother country, whereas Etruscan art, though still influenced by Greek models, is readily differentiated in style and subject.  Etruscan art was mainly religious and the few surviving examples are connected with funerary rites.  Excavated Etruscan tombs containing bronze figures, jewelry, artistic implements, etc., offer a rich archeological evidence of artistic activity.  In painting there are notable frescoes in Tarquinia which represent the earliest surviving examples of pictorial art on the Peninsula.

Italian Art during the Roman Period

In the early Roman polity, during the semimythical period of the seven kings, there was a strong admixture of Etruscan social and artistic influences.  It is not surprising, therefore, that early Roman art was essentially a continuation of Etruscan art.  This condition persisted during the early republican period.  But in the later stages of the republic, as closer ties were forged with the Greek world, Roman art began to borrow more and more heavily from that world.  The decorative use of pictorial mosaics in the residences of the rich became widespread, as well as the practice of sculpture in public and religious buildings.  Numerous examples of both art forms survive in the ruins of both temples and villas, representing the flow of organized religion and public worship in Roman life.  Later, in imperial times, the influence of Greece in Latin art, and in many other fields, became even more pronounced.

Italian Art during the Byzantine Period

More severe, less naturalistic and sometimes more dramatic artwork styles were later developed in the surviving Eastern empire, following the fall of the West.  The stylized representation of the human figure, two-dimensional, with no depth or perspective,  characterizes the Byzantine style that dominated Italian painting until the end of the 13th century.  The context is almost invariably religious, and the intent of the artist is clearly not to produce a faithful representation of the physical world, but to evoke in the spectator feelings of otherworldliness, mysticism, and piety.

Italian art during the Renaissance period

The Renaissance was the great reflowering of art, literature, philosophy and science which began at the start of the 15th century, the fabled Quattrocento of Italy.  In this period, inaugurated by Giotto’s epochal break with Byzantine traditions, we have a more realistically representational art, an art more concerned with the representation and interpretation of the physical world, and the humanity that inhabited it, rather with purely religious themes.  This does not mean that religious themes were no longer treated; it does mean that, within these themes, the renderings were more worldly, more human, less stylized and ethereal.  Space came to be represented with the discovery of the laws of perspective, and in time secular subjects came to be represented along with religious ones.  Classical (pre-Christian) ideals were revived, the achievements of the ancients were rediscovered, and some were found valuable.  Hybrid subjects uniting religious and classical themes became common.  Humanism, the idea that humanity and human concerns were after all worthy objects of study, came into its own and left its mark on painting, sculpture, and architecture.

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The Path To Happiness Should Include Italian Art

Today’s hectic world could use a little Italian spice

Italian Wine Shadow PaintingThere are so many stresses and pressures people are under nowadays that it is a wonder more people haven’t discovered the healing and calming effects that Italian Art can give you. For some people doing everything right is just not enough to break out of the slump that difficulties in life can produce. There is a psychological phenomenon that most people are completely unaware of.

Color has a strong influence on your outlook on life

Ever looked at a cluttered desk or table and felt a feeling of frustration? Ever been in a bad mood because your home or office is just filled with too much stuff?  You are not alone.  Millions of people suffer the same problem. Clutter is an example of how visual shapes and colors can cause your subconscious mind to be overburdened with calculations. The same problem with clutter is magnified when it comes to more pervasive things, like wall color, curtains, and other large features of your home.

Color can effect your subconscious mind

It seems to be common knowledge that certain colors make you feel one way or another.  The exaggerated example is the saying “I was so mad that I was seeing red.” Bull fighters for instance have been irritating bulls for centuries with the color red.  Using red in your home can be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on your personality.

Behavioral controls that use color

Hospitals and government institutions have been using color as a behavior modification technique for decades. Ever wonder why large facilities have well coordinated color schemes?  Many institutions use shades of blue, green, and earthy tones in order to create a calming atmosphere especially in places where patrons are in a stressful situation and may be easily irritated.  Many doctors and health officials believe that environmental conditions can increase the rate of recovery after injury or surgery and color plays a major role in that process.

Why Italian Art can bring you more satisfaction in life

There is no question that Italian artists have know how to inspire joy and feelings of well being through their masterful use of color. You won’t often find Italian art that is full of nonsensical clashing of colors. The eye wants to make sense of the world and too many clashing color combinations repel most viewers.  And Italian painters have the art of mood enhancement using colors down to a science.  It is no wonder that people are willing to pay top dollar to have this wonderful type of mood enhancing art in their homes.

Recent Art From This Author For Sale

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