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Renaissance in Sabbioneta

The splendor of the family Gonzaga in Sabbioneta (part I)

11 June 2021
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Lo sfarzo dei Gonzaga a Sabbioneta (Atto I)

The exhibition “Renaissance in Sabbioneta, the splendor of the Gonzagas in Sabbioneta part I” is an original set-up of the Gonzaga princes’ dresses, inside the rooms of the Ideal city’s Palazzo Ducale. 

The sumptuous renaissance ceremonial dresses wore by the Gonzaga family have been recreated philologically by Fausto Fornasari and his team in his laboratory King Studio in over 30 years of research and production and are visible again in Italy after 20 years of world tour (New York, Beijing, Buenos Aires, Lisbon, Strasbourg, Belgrade, Hong Kong, Bangkok, etc.) .

 The setting in Palazzo Ducale named “Part I” by the organizers is an anticipation of the main event that will happen on 4th September 2021, when also Part II, with the set-up in Palazzo Giardino and in Galleria della Mostra, and Part III, with the luxurious renaissance figures that will liven up Teatro all’Antica, will be accessible. 

The exhibition “Renaissance in Sabbioneta, the splendor of the Gonzagas in Sabbioneta part I, II and III” will end on 30th June 2022 with a remarkable tableau vivant and a great renaissance party.

Hall of Lions

Hall of Lions

Symbolic Dress 

The hall hosts the symbolic dress of this project and summarizes the difficulties met during the work of restoration of the historic information and presents the maximum splendor of the cloths, decorations and accessories. It has been exceptionally worn during the filming of “Sabbioneta, a Man’s Soul”.

Hall of Lions
Hall of Elephants

Hall of Elephants

The Prince’s Banquet 

This hall’s setting accurately recreates a renaissance environment ready to welcome the guests of a sumptuous banquet. The jubilant appearance of the precious cloths near the wall, the elegant ceramics, the sculptural group of allegoric figures, the valorisation of the frescos and ceilings let the visitor admire the same environment that was presented to the guests in Renaissance. Every detail of the setting has been made possible thanks to patient study and a work of reproduction in collaboration with the best art ceramics and textile production businesses from our Country.

Hall of Elephants
Hall of Cities

Hall of Cities

Isabella d'Este and Federico Gonzaga 

The two dresses exposed here portray the huge change brought by Renaissance in every aspect of life and culture of that time period. 

The dress wore by Isabella d'Este, rebuilt starting from a painting by Giulio Romano, includes references to artists, symbols and elements coming from renaissance culture. The drawing of a knot by Leonardo da Vinci, two overlapped layers of clothing with simboli di imprese, and cut sections that show parts of the woman body describe the new lifestyle of the era. 

Federico II Gonzaga’s dress, first Duke of Mantua, son of Isabella d’Este and Francesco II Gonzaga, has been restored starting from a painting by Tizian (1529). The masculine shapes are highlighted by the use of militaresche and the decorative element called “braghetta”, which underlines a free moral, without inhibitions of the period.

Hall of Cities
Hall of the Angel

Hall of the Angel

Miniatures 

The main characters of this room are two miniature dresses. At first sight they may look like dolls’ dresses destined to young dames. Instead, they represent a way more complex and interesting reality.

Thanks to some letter exchanges today we know that several European princesses wrote letters to Isabella d’Este to ask for fashion advices, since they wanted to imitate her style. 

The Marchioness invented an original and reliable method to transmit her clothes to the European courts: she requested to produce miniatures of her dresses so that they could be worn by porcelain dolls called “Piavole of Mantua”, thus she created the first way of communication in the fashion world, pioneer of modern magazines.

Hall of the Angel
Hall of the Octagons

Hall of the Octagons

Vincenzo Gonzaga and Eleonora Gonzaga 

The dresses of these two leading figures of the family Gonzaga tell a story of power, splendor, luxury and wealth. Vincenzo Gonzaga is dressed up for his coronation as Duke of Mantua the same way as Giovanni Bahuet depicted him in his painting in 1857. 

The magnificence of the ermin cape, the sumptuous golden embroidery on white silk, the insertion of pearls in every area of the embroidery symbolise and tell the grandeur and wealth of the Gonzagas’ court in this period. 

Eleonora Gonzaga’s dress was restored starting from a work of art that portrays her with one of the dresses that had been sewed in occasion of her marriage with the Emperor Ferdinand II. There were several ceremonial dresses because each celebration day in Mantua and Wien required a different dress. 

The splendor of the occasion is expressed through the delicate embroidery realized by loom, a series of important golden buttons and a precious choker with a pendant.

Hall of the Octagons
Hall of Grapes

Hall of Grapes

Marriage between Vincenzo Gonzaga and Eleonora Gonzaga 

The five dresses have been restored thanks to Jacopo da Empoli’s painting which portrays the exchange of the rings between Vincenzo Gonzaga and his second wife Eleonora de Medici. 

We are at the beginning of the Baroque period which saw a huge change in style and culture. Women's bodies are hid by rigid and structured dresses, comparable to architectural works. Men's clothes became more similar to military dresses and the use of opulent gorgets gives spectacular majesty to the clothes. 

The heavy cloths glow thanks to the precious work on the brocade in which silvery, golden and coloured threads are introduced during weaving. Every cloth that is produced is then exclusively utilized for a single dress, which becomes a unique work of art.

Hall of Grapes