Balthazar, in the Palazzo Medici Riccardi's chapel
Rubelli damask inspired by the Balthazar fresco
In the 16th century there were more than 5,000 looms in Venice, Italy, that were producing luxurious silks, damasks, brocades and velvets, some woven through with pure gold thread. Continuing the tradition of textile production begun centuries before, a man named Lorenzo Rubelli began making high-quality upholstery and curtain fabrics in Venice in about 1850, and he set up shop in Florence in 1913.
Inspired by Benozzo Gozzoli's Procession of the Magi, painted in 1459 on the walls of the Palazzo Medici Riccardi chapel in Florence, Andrea Gori, a young man who worked in Tessitura Rubelli, proposed a series of 14 lampas, damasks and satin liseré taken from the Medici mural. Those lush textiles, along with reproductions of the frescoes from which they were copied, are part of an exhibit that began in Italy, traveled through Europe and is now in Los Angeles at the Pacific Design Center through the end of April.