The Beautiful Venetian Masks of Epcot's La Gemma Elegante
One of the most beautiful little shops located on the Piazza at Epcot's Italy has got to be the elegant little gem showcasing the art of the Venetian Mask. Brad's covered it here before in a stunning photo post. I wanted to take a closer look, and share some information about just what these exquisite pieces of functional artwork are.
La Gemma Elegante is the fantastic dominion of of Giorgio Iurcotta, who relocated to Florida from Venice, Italy, to represent the family business. Here Giorgio carries on the tradition of creating these mysterious, luminous, and beautiful papier machee masks for guests to experience. If you look back at Brad's post, you'll notice in the comments that Giorgio himself stopped by to let our readers know he is happy to sign his magnificent work. Check out this video from Disney Parks Blog:
The history of the Republic of Venice tells of an extravagant and beautiful state, where citizens reveled in the ability to cross classes and become anonymous. Carnevale Di Venezia was first recorded in 1268, and the masks have always been a part of it. During much of the medieval history of Venice, residents could go through a large part of the year in their disguises allowing for a society where anonymity broke down not only the barriers of class, but those of morals as well. Maskmakers of Venice (mascherari) enjoyed a special position in society, with a guild and their own laws.
However, due to the crime and troubles that came with an anonymous society by 1608 the wearing of masks was outlawed during any time but Carnevale. In 1797 the Republic of Venice was absorbed into the Kingdom of the Lombardy-Venetia, and the rich traditions of the mask faded from mind. The exquisite art could have easily been lost forever in history, but in 1979 a small and dedicated group of artisans revived the tradition and began selling these jewels of the city.
The little shop La Gemma Elegante is filled with Venetian masks of all shapes and sizes, from full face coverage gilded with raised scrollwork and painted in every color imaginable, to the delicate and elegant filigree webs that sparkle and glitter in the light. There is a mask that speaks to everyone, as masks were intended to be worn by all classes of people.
My favorite of the masks are the elegant and feminine openwork filigree designs. Have you ever stopped inside to visit Giorgio and admire his beautiful creations? Do you have some of his works on display in your home? Leave a comment and share what your favorite part of this little shop is.