Jacopo Strada

Born 1510, Mantua, Italy; died 1588, Italy

Jacopo Strada was an illustrious artist who lived in Italy and Germany in the 16th century.  Originally trained as a painter, Strada was a true Renaissance man, excelling as an architect, illustrator, inventor, linguist, and goldsmith.  But Strada’s primary career was as an antiquarian and art dealer for many of the most powerful families and rulers of 16th century Europe, including two popes and the Habsburg court in Vienna.  Strada’s considerable status at court is notable in his portrait by Titian, commissioned in 1568 and now in the collection of the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna.

The drawings that comprise this exhibit are from Strada’s career as a goldsmith.  Typifying the elaborate mannerist style of the time, this collection is essentially a catalogue of designs for extravagant gold dining service items from which only exceptionally wealthy patrons could commission pieces directly from Strada’s workshop.  While recognizable as drinking cups, salt cellars, trays, and other components of a dining service, most of these highly ornate objects would have been displayed to convey wealth and influence rather than put to use.  Many of the designs, however, were never realized and their execution would have most certainly been nearly impossible.

Strada's drawings are held by various museums, including the Museo delle Scienze, Florence, the Oestereichischen Nationalbibliothek, Vienna, the Metropolitan Museum, New York, and the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, among others.  The 37 drawings on display at Sorokko Gallery are, remarkably, the largest such collection.  Intricately rendered in ink and brown wash for a painterly effect, the drawings are a showcase for Strada’s mastery of design and invention – as well as draftsmanship – and speak to his considerable talent and influence across media.

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