The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston has just acquired a work by the Italian goldsmith Andrea Cagnetti. Like Australia’s Robert Baines, the 40 year-old Cagnetti has specialised in the ancient technique of granulation as practiced by Etruscan artisans. Unlike the speculative Baines, Cagnetti employs his craft reverentially. The work above is thus described:
The 22-karat gold pendant, named "Chort", takes the form of an eight-arm cross with a central medallion featuring an image of the Lamb of God (Agnus Dei). Using a technique developed by the ancient Etruscans (7th-6th century B.C.), the image is made of tiny gold balls (granulation) set against a starry background which is also made of small balls. Twisted wires radiate from the medallion while the eight arms of the cross are made of gold sheet with a surface decorated with wires and granulation. Two borings in the arms next to the central vertical element have sheet metal bails and are points of attachment for a chain or ribbon. On the right bail, there are the marks 900 [22kt] within a cartouche and 72 VT [artist’s registry number] within a cartouche.
Cagnetti is currently working on a book that considers the social context that lent itself to the development of sophisticated metal techniques in ancient cultures. It makes us wonder what kind of context then leads someone like Robert Baines to exercise these skills in the production of such authentic fictions.