Fabbri e ferri

Italia, XII-XVI secolo

Paola Boccalatte


This study outlines the history of the art of ironwork in Italy during the Middle Ages, examining the princAal personalities involved, documents and significant episodes. Scientific studies that examine artistic ironwork in Italy are scarce and yet there are ample collections of documents on the arts, in the form of photographic portfolios and manuals, compiled in the late nineteenth century and the first three decades of the twentieth. The first part of this study examines the background, quantifying the legacy of still extant ironwork, and analysing its future in terms of protection, study, imitation, reproduction, reuse and dispersal.Understanding the technical similarities between the processes generally used in the workshops of jewellery-makers andblacksmiths, and attempting to distinguish between original mediaeval works and copies has meant dealing with the problem of techniques, a subject that is examined in some notes on the installation, assembly, decoration, colouring and interpretation of the precepts expounded in the treatises. The main area of focus is on those types of works which are dealt with in greater depth in archive documents, which essentially means monumental ironwork and thus primarily gates and railings. Light is then shed on another series of works – caskets and chests – which appear in large quantities in collections and museums and on those that are still in situ, such as locks and door bolts. The chronological limits of this study are not clear-cut, but the focus is mainlyon the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. The initial date has had to be pushed back to include Romanesque works