Featuring selections from the museum’s collection of exquisite silver creations designed and fabricated in Italy by the luxury jewelry firm of Buccellati, and generously donated by Betty Grisham of Huntsville is the outstanding permanent collection, Buccellati: A Silver Menagerie. Due to Mrs. Grisham’s remarkable vision and support, the Huntsville Museum of Art can claim to have the world’s largest public collection of these unique works of art.
The present house of Buccellati was founded in 1919 in Milan, Italy and originated what is known as the Buccellati style, which combines Renaissance period techniques, luxury materials and the extensive use of texture engraving to create objects of great beauty. This distinctive style won favor with a discriminating international clientele, including the Vatican as well as the Royal Houses of Italy, Spain, Belgium, England and Egypt.
Gianmaria Buccellati carries on the family tradition today as an internationally renowned silversmith. He has dedicated his life to creating extraordinary objects that exemplify fine Italian craftsmanship. His signature silver animals replicate creates from earth, sea and sky in a highly realistic manner. Buccellati invented a new method of working in silver to capture fine detail like feathers, hair, or different types of skin, known as “lavorazione a pelo” or “hair-like workmanship”. An animal reproduced “a pelo” is the result of welding countless silver filaments of varying length and thickness to give the actual appearance of the natural coat. It is a demanding method that requires the highest level of skill and an absolute mastery of soldering techniques.
Animals with the hair-like workmanship were originally produced in 800 silver, which is stronger, but less pure than 925 sterling due to its higher alloy content. This was because the intense heat of soldiering used in the creation of the animals would have melted the very thin filaments if they were sterling, but the Buccellati artisans were able to invent a new technique of soldiering that allowed them to work within the heat tolerance of sterling silver. As a result, all animals produced since 1995 have been created in 925 sterling.
Highlights of the Museum’s collection include a stunning four-foot tall flamingo and delightful reclining giraffe, inspired by a trip to Africa; a spectacular marine centerpiece consisting of Mediterranean sea creatures arranged around a natural amethyst geode; and a new family of deer commissioned by the museum to honor Betty Grisham, the remarkable woman who conceived the world-class collection.