Exhibition: The Lustre of Gems. Mineralogical Specimens and Decorative Gems in Art

The Cracow Saltworks Museum Wieliczka invites to an exhibition entitled “The Lustre of Gems. Mineralogical Specimens and Decorative Gems in Art” in the Saltworks Castle in Wieliczka. The exhibition presents gem specimens in natural forms, as well as processed by jewellers or sculptors, offering a unique opportunity for admiring various manifestations of beauty in the works of nature and man.

Due to the fact that gems have always fascinated people from all cultures, the exhibition presents the manner of using them since the most distant past, through archaeological and artistic exhibits, jewellery and handicraft items from various epochs. Most valuable minerals and rock have been taken into account, along with stones of organic origin (pearl, coral and amber). Diamonds, so valued today, emeralds, rubies or sapphires have not always been considered precious. In the ancient times, people preferred turquoise, lapis lazuli, amethyst, jasper and carnelian; in China and in pre-Colombian Mexico, jade was valued most, whereas in Rome – sapphires and emeralds. Gems were appreciated not only for the beauty of colours and lustre, but also because people had faith in their beneficial influence – they were believed to bring happiness and protect from misfortunes. Therefore, the red carnelian – the favourite talisman of warriors – is encountered in a knightly belt from the 16th century.

Among the presented exhibits, it is worth listing items from ancient Egypt, engraved gems, unique cylindrical stamps (Mesopotamia, approx. 2500 – 2200 B.C.), examples of Gothic and Baroque goldsmithery (a reliquary cross from Nysa), outfit and arms accessories (mace from the 1st half of the 18th century) and other works of applied art (precious jewel cases, clocks and accessories). The exhibition offers a comparison of jewellery forms starting from ones deriving from excavations (amber necklace from early Bronze Age, Merovingian decorations with garnets from Montedur in France) through decorated gemstones from the 18th and the 19th century, up to jewellery in the art déco style from the 1920’s. The exhibition also features iconographic presentations in the works of European painting, mainly portraits and religious paintings (16th – 19th century).

The exhibition is organised in cooperation with the Mineralogical Museum of the University of Wrocław of K. Maślankiewicz and encompasses over 300 exhibits from collections of various museums and scientific institutions (including the Geological Museum of the Institute of Geological Sciences and the Institute of Archaeology of the Jagiellonian University, the Museum of the Jagiellonian University, the National Museums in Kraków and in Wrocław, the Royal Castle in Wawel), as well as church and private collections.

The exhibition is open between 17.04.2015 and 30.08.2015 in the Saltworks Castle in Wieliczka (ul. Zamkowa 8).

loga pasek Blask Kamieni

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