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Chiurazzi Foundry in Naples: A Great Italian Story ...

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Chiurazzi Foundry in Naples: A Great Italian Story  ... - February 2012 - n. 03
Chiurazzi Foundry in Naples: A Great Italian Story  ... - February 2012 - n. 03
Chiurazzi Foundry in Naples: A Great Italian Story  ... - February 2012 - n. 03
Within the next spring sales at Castello Mackenzie, with an auction entirely dedicated to Sculpture and Art Objects, three bronze busts of classical inspiration and extraordinary execution, signed “Chiurazzi Napoli”, will be sold.
Simple ideas and high quality of hand labour are products that, in any time and context, get themselves talked about.
If, at present, hardworking, meant not only as practical skill but also as knowledge to be passed on, was lost for many works we keep on calling “handcraft”, at the beginning of the last century the problem had already emerged.
In 1905, one of the best Neapolitan chasers of the time, Gennaro Chiurazzi, recalling his sculpture master Pietro Masulli praised him highly for the fact of being the first to have marked in Naples art a completely new path, opposite to the one of the Art Academies: an artistic manufacturing that could be applied also to the industry of the time, without the risk of becoming serial.
The typology of product, unique and refined, to which Chiurazzi refers to, is the one that had already made him famous everywhere: bronze and life-size reproduction of classical and Renaissance sculptures. Each Chiurazzi manufacture was obtained thanks to the lost wax investment casting technique (realized on casts of Greek and Roman originals preserved at the Museo Archeologico Nazionale in Naples, Musei Vaticani, Musei Capitolini and Museo Borghese in Rome, Palazzo Pitti, Galleria degli Uffizi and Museo Nazionale in Florence), refined then by the hands of a master chaser.
The chance, unique in the history, to create casts from works of such important museums, gave the chance to the Chiurazzi Foundry to have a gallery of around 1.500 plaster casts of classical sculptures – from Doriforo to Discobolo, from Ercole Farnese to Laocoonte, from various Venuses to imperial statues, from Hellenic busts discovered in Ercolano to every kind of objects coming from Pompeii and so on –, Renaissance and modern (from Michelangelo’s Mosè to Cellini’s Perseo, from Bernini’s masterpieces to Canova’s).
This fact gave the chance to the Neapolitan foundry to gain clients all over the world: not only reigning families in Europe and in the East, but also and especially tens of large Anglo-Saxon museums on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean that, to show classical beauty in all its perfect shapes and to revive the taste for the Ancient, do not hesitate to have Chiurazzi bronzes delivered in America. On the top of this process, the most well-known episode: the reproduction, between 1974 and 1975, of all bronzes found in the Villa dei Papiri in Ercolano for the decoration of the villa-museum that the oil magnate J. Paul Getty was building in Malibu, California, and that still today hosts his classical antiquity collection.
The creative process of the bronzes is the same Egyptians and Chinese used already 4 thousand years ago: after having obtained a heat-resistant cast
of the original manufacture, it is covered with a layer of silicone gum that takes the shape of the original. The wax model is closed in a mould, in which a system of casting canals and air valves is formed. Through heating, the wax melts and leaves space for cart bronze. Once the bronzes get colder, and the mould is broken, they undergo a first sandblast. At this point, the artist starts to work with burins, files and chisels (in total a hundred of different instruments) to refine and put on relief all the smallest particulars. The last step is coating.
The Chiurazzi Foundry had three types of coating: the one so called “Pompei”, dark green; the “Ercolano” one, dark and uniform brown; and the “Moderna” one, lighter brown mixed to green.
This last stage of manufacturing, as all the others, requires a long experience and the knowledge of a very complicated technique, passed on from worker to worker, from generation to generation, among Naples chasers working for and with Gennaro Chiurazzi, his sons and nephews.
Exactly one year ago, the brand of the Chiurazzi Foundry, after years of neglect and promises not fulfilled by the Italian politics, was bought by a private company from Arizona, which saved from destruction a unique and incomparable patrimony of casts put together in one century and a half of glorious history. The project is to open, in Naples area, a Chiurazzi Museum and a research centre on bronze hardworking.
Another historical excellence we hope can be saved from the oblivion of this careless contemporary Italy.


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