Padua’s gold work tradition originated in the Middle Ages.
The first statute of its goldsmiths’ guild dates back to 1454 and consists of a collection of rules governing the fraternity, the organisation of the workshops, hallmarking procedures and product quality standards.
The fifteenth century saw a large influx of master goldsmiths to Padua from the Adriatic hinterland and from Tuscany.
Production was stimulated by relations with illustrious figures and liturgical needs and is recorded in inventories and legal documents relating to items purchased or used as collateral and assets left by deceased persons.
From the nineteenth century, an important role was played in the training of craftsmen and artists in this sector by the school named after Pietro Selvatico, which was founded in 1867 as a “school of practical design, modelling and carving for craftsmen”.
1960 saw the start of a workshop for the study of artistic gold work, and in 1966 the school’s “Metal and gold-working arts” section was established.
The goldsmiths’ school established itself and earned international acclaim in the 1970s through the work of Graziano Visintin, a significant female representation and its distinctly non-commercial and anti-decorative approach, reaching high standards in the 1980s in terms of experimental research, creativity and material working skills.
In 2008, Padua hosted the highly successful exhibition “Artistic Jewellery: Padua and its Gold School”, promoted by the local municipality, the provincial authorities and the Department of Historical and Artistic Heritage.
The tradition continues today with the use not only of gold and platinum but also, in some workshops, of silver and less precious materials.
Curator — Camera di Commercio di Padova