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Return to the Masters

Lyle Sopel -

Dear Collector Friend,

On a recent trip to Europe I was overcome with delight during a visit to the Galleria dell’Accademia in Florence. Surrounded by works from the masters and steeped in beauty, I felt as though I was coming home.

Entering the gallery to view Michelangelo’s works, I had the sense that I was walking into his studio. A massive skylit hall was lined on either side with his exquisite “non-finito” works; “The Awakening Slave”,“The Young Slave”,“The Bearded Slave” and “The Atlas”. Glancing towards the end of the hall, I laid eyes on his magnificent sculpture of David and had to catch my breath.

I was fascinated to learn more about the method in which Michelangelo created his master works. While the conventional technique of the time was to use a “pointing machine” to mark a plaster model and then transfer those marks to a block of marble or stone, Michelangelo’s method was to submerge a wax model of his subject in a vessel of water, allowing it to gradually emerge so that he could observe the elements that were most pronounced.  It was these parts that were first extracted from the marble. He then worked mostly free hand, beginning at the front of the marble and working towards the back. Imagine the skill necessary to achieve such greatness!

Moving on from Michelangelo’s works, we viewed over  200 plaster casts of busts and human forms in the “Salone dell’Ottocento” and the “Gipsoteca Bartolini”. Here we saw some of the finest plaster casts made by the great 19th century sculptor and professor, Lorenzo Bartolini. Bartolini was commissioned by Russian, English and Polish nobles to create busts and medallions to represent them and their families. He was respected by his exclusive European clientele for his skill in expressing grace and beauty in the portrayal of his subjects.

With over 30 years of knowledge and experience in jade carving, I felt a strong appreciation for these masters’ techniques and for the sheer amount of works they produced. I left the gallery feeling truly humbled. What an honour it was to spend a few hours immersed in such artful magnificence!

Art, Nature, and Beauty Always,


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