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Magnificent renaissance metalwork and a mistery: 12 Silver Caesars to be reunited at Met Museum
12 December, 2017 - 13 December, 2017
The superb technical virtuosity of Renaissance silversmiths is nowhere more evident than in the magnificent set of 12 silver-gilt standing cups from the 16th century known collectively as the Aldobrandini Tazze. Each of the Tazze stands over a foot tall and features a shallow footed dish surmounted by a figure of one of the first 12 Caesars.
On the intricately wrought interior of each dish appear four episodes from the life of the corresponding ruler, as recounted by the Roman historian Suetonius. Although the Tazze are among the finest and rarest examples of 16th-century European silverwork, little is known about their creation. The questions of when, where, why, for whom, and by whom these splendid luxury objects were made will be addressed in the exhibition The Silver Caesars: A Renaissance Mystery, opening December 12 at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. The
complete set has not been seen together since the mid-19th century, when it was disassembled and dispersed, its constituent parts misidentified and mismatched. In addition, the elements of all 12 Tazze will be displayed in their original configuration—a unique opportunity for modern viewers to appreciate one of the most enigmatic monuments of in the work of 16th-century goldsmiths.
The exhibition is made possible by The Schroder Foundation, Selim K. Zilkha, the Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Foundation, Nina von Maltzahn, and an anonymous donor.
The Silver Caesars will highlight the elegance and astonishing erudition of the Tazze, presenting them with a small selection of other works in silver and other media, including both ancient and Renaissance coins and medals and Renaissance prints, books, and paintings. The exhibition will consider such topics as 19th-century views of the Renaissance and Renaissance views of ancient Rome. Examples of 19th-century works that the Tazze inspired will be included. In addition to offering new insights into the Tazze and their history, the exhibition will explore the set’s famously mysterious reputation—engaging the visitor in tracing clues that may lead to a better understanding of this Renaissance masterpiece.
Within the exhibition, a digital component featuring high-resolution photography of two Tazze will enable visitors to explore these works and their fantastic antiquarian imagery in greater depth. This material, including narration by Mary Beard, Professor of Classics, University of Cambridge, will also be available on The Met website.