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Art Adorned: Dolce&Gabbana meet the Old Masters

Fashion and art have been having quite the love affair. For some, it is a friendship of mutual support and influence, synchronising to make one iconic moment – take the 1990s, where McQueen, Emin and Hirst ruled not only Britain but the world. For others, it is the love of admiration and imitation: Yves St Laurent replicating Piet Mondrian’s Composition with Red, Blue and Yellow (1930) onto a shift dress in 1965, or the more recent printing of George Stubb’s A Horse Frightened by a Lion (1770) on Stella McCartney’s FW17 ready-to-wear collection.

The love affair Dolce&Gabbana have with art, however, is different. It is obsessive and all encompassing, spanning centuries of movements, mediums and artists across their Alta Moda collections. It is a love affair that intrigues and enchants those who witness it and has subsequently become the focus of Christie’s late 2019 exhibition ‘Art Adorned: Dolce&Gabbana Alta Gioielleria and the Old Masters’, which unravels the relationship in all its luxurious theatrics.

The exhibition, running from 22 November to 3 December 2019, presented Old Master paintings and Decorative Arts alongside Dolce&Gabbana’s Alta Moda, Alta Gioielleria and Alta Sartoria collections – collections which are the pinnacle of the brand’s emphasis on Italian glamour and craftsmanship. Set across five rooms: Renaissance, Baroque, Rococo, The Divine and Florals, art from the 14th to the 19th century meets contemporary couture in a celebration of influence and inspiration intended to make the Old Masters more accessible to younger audiences. Sandra Romitio, Senior Consultant of Old Master Paintings at Christie’s, commented that the exhibition was “a way to get rid of the dust that’s associated with Old Master paintings and decorative art”, making both the art and the haute couture “more human” in a way that an exhibition at Christie’s can, rather than the haunting intimidation of the national art galleries. Certainly, within the exhibition, there is a real sense of tangibility, marked by the closeness of viewers to the pieces. Whilst several of the works were on loan, most went up for private sale, contributing to the “physical relationship that you have with the works”, an aspect that Romito lauds.

The exhibition opens with the stupendous pairing of a Dolce&Gabbana Alta Moda corset dress with Artemisia Gentileschi’s The Triumph of Galatea. The dress, composed of silk tulle and basketweave organza, is printed with imagery inspired by Cupid and Psyche by Jacques-Louis David, the use of mythological subject to portray nudes linking it to Gentileschi’s work. It’s a powerful combination, especially considering the painting was initially ascribed to Bernado Cavallino before being ascribed to Gentileschi, the first woman to become a member of the Accademia di Arte de Fisegno in Florence. Together the two personify empowerment, filling the room with a display of female power in their awe-inspiring expanse.

Other highlights of the exhibition include an Alta Moda organza corset dress, hand stitched on the full skirt, as in the Renaissance, with an impression of Raphael’s Madonna del Belvedere. Meanwhile, flowers reminiscent of 16th and 17th-century flower pieces are cross-stitched across the corset. The dress sits between Francesco Bottinci’s oil painting Madonna and Child with Two Angels and Bernardino Zaganelli’s Madonna and Child, with Saints Roch and Sebastian in a showcase of Renaissance glory.

Relive all the luxury of Art Adorned from your living room with our founder Giulia Battaglia Trovato’s photographs and if those pique your interest, make sure to visit Christie’s website where a virtual tour of the exhibition can be found, making for perfect quarantine viewing.

Virtual Exhibition:

Caitlin Farrell Publicity Director

Cambridge University Fashion & Luxury Business Society

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