Shades of blue that transport us to the translucent waters of the Caribbean, crystal-clear whites that evoke the finest of sands, pale greens that recall distant, exotic plants –oh, paradise! It’s not difficult to imagine the awe, fascination and admiration that those men and women must have felt when they first encountered the new world. Vivid colours, tropical exuberance, plants, fruits and animals of unthinkable shapes making sounds never before heard. It must have been nothing short of astonishing.
In his first letter sent back home, reaching Lisbon in March of 1493 and quickly becoming a best seller, Christopher Columbus showcases and describes the sights he beheld in the unchartered territory he was discovering: “[...] full of trees of endless varieties, so high that they seem to touch the sky, and I have been told that they never lose their foliage. I saw them as green and lovely as trees are in Spain in the month of May. [...] There were palm trees of six or eight varieties, the graceful peculiarities of each one of them being worthy of admiration as are the other trees, fruits and grasses. There are wonderful pine woods and very extensive ranges of meadowland. There is honey, and there are many kinds of birds, and a great variety of fruits.”
This fascination would endure until the expeditions of the Enlightenment in the 18th century, including José Celestino Mutis’ quest in 1783. The tornaviaje, literally, the “return journey”, came promptly, and these fabrics, colours, fruits and flowers emerge in paintings, clothing, markets, ornaments and accessories. And it is precisely this diversity, this encounter and enchantment that jewellery designer Patrizia Corvaglia bore in mind when designing her exclusive collection for the Prado Museum as part of the Return Journey exhibition. All this can be admired through the artist’s eye and interpretation in a collection she has titled Joyería contemporánea de inspiración antigua (“Contemporary jewellery from ancient inspiration”). Turtles, seahorses, dragonflies, flowers with enormous petals protecting their pistil, and exotic baroque shapes together with aquamarine, amethyst, lapis lazuli, citrine and peridot that transport us to far off places. As in all her work, these objects illustrate the rendezvous of sculpture and design.
Unique pieces carefully sculpted in golden bronze, bringing to mind the search for El Dorado and the arrival of galleons from the Indies with this precious metal. A whole legend, encounter and ambience are elegantly expressed in these exclusive pieces by Patrizia. The entire collection is handmade using an ancient sculpting technique for bronze, thus rescuing a historic tradition through modern aesthetics to celebrate the spell of discovery and nature’s timeless beauty.