Lacquered wooden box with prints by Remondini

Lacquered wooden box with prints by Remondini.

Venice, 1720 ca.

w 32 cm x d 27cm x h 14,5 cm.


Founded in the mid-seventeenth century, the Remondini publishing firm produced prints and books on a massive scale for nearly two hundred years, marketing their paper commodities not only across Europe but also in the American colonies and parts of Asia. Based in Bassano, Italy (45 miles northwest of Venice), the firm targeted a large, popular audience. By offering a wide array of printed materials, ranging from religious pictures and texts, to genre scenes, to sweeping landscape views, the firm appealed to the interests—and budgets—of an emerging middle class audience.

Unlike firms that made high-quality prints for a small, wealthy audience, the Remondini utilized a business strategy of cheap production aimed at a large, middling audience. To reach this audience, the firm employed traveling salesmen—agents who sold prints directly to customers, and in the process, gained an understanding of the tastes and preferences of their clientele.  

“Among the prints sold by the pedlars we also find decorated papers that would have been employed primarily to bind books but could also have been used to cover furniture, objects and boxes. The Remondini’s products range was among the broadest in Europe and included paper printed from wooden matrices as well as gilded paper manufactured using techniques of which they were masters.” (Milano 2013, p. 93)


This antique Venetian box is decorated with Lacca povera.

Lacca povera (also termed arte povera and lacca contrafatta) was developed as a means of imitating the appearance of costly, scarce and fashionable high value lacquer being imported into Europe from the far East. It is now rarer and possibly more valued in the west than the material it imitated. It is not surprising that it was in Venice that one of the first lacquer substitutes was developed. Venice was an important port through which the luxury products of the Silk Route reached Europe. In Lacca povera motifs and scenes were pasted on the primed wood using flower paste. They were then decorated with color and finally varnished. It is believed that the varnish used by the Venetians was made with sandarac. Both spirit and oil versions existed.

Sandarac oil varnish was the so-called “vernis liquida” of the Italian Renaissance-era.


Remondini’s prints collection is now displayed in a museum named after the firm itself in Bassano del Grappa, the hometown of the family and the firm.

Museo Remondini is hosted in Palazzo Sturm, which won the Icom prize as the best “glocal” museum in 2010, thanks to the exhibition dedicated to Remondini publishing firm.

The museum is one of the few dedicated to the history of the printing in Italy, and it is definitely the most interesting because of the link with the international trades of Remondini family between 1700 and 1800. It shows the whole range of production: books, decorated paper, folk engravings, games, optical views, wood engravings by the best authors of the time.



Milano, A. 2013, “‘Selling Prints for the Remondini’: Italian Pedlars Travelling through Europe during the Eighteenth Century,” in Not Dead Things: The Dissemination of Popular Print in England and Wales, Italy, and the Low Countries, 1500–1820, ed. by Roeland Harms, Joad Raymond, and Jeroen Salman (Leiden: Brill, 2013), pp. 75–96.


Viewing of ruins


Viewing of ruins

Flemish artist, second half eighteenth century.

Bodycolor on paper.

15 x 20 cm.



Nymph with amphora



Bronze statue of a Nymph holding a gilded bronze amphora, on a wooden base.

Roman art.

1790 ca.

h 23 cm x 20 cm.


Coconut and ivory pot

Coconut pot, on turned mahogany base with ivory pommel.


1780/90 ca.

h 33 cm.


Carved and lacquered wooden horse for a Nativity

Carved and lacquered wooden horse for a Nativity

Genoese art

first quarter XVIII century

43 x 41 cm.


The art of reproducing the nativity scene is linked to an ancient tradition in Italy. Three cities are particularly famous for their presepi: Bologna, Naples and Genoa.

The Bolognese tradition dates back to the 13th century, and it is different from other nativity scenes realized in Italy because all characters are entirely hand carved, including their clothes. Various materials can be employed, from terracotta to paper, from wood to plaster, depending on the craftsman’s ability.

The Neapolitan nativity scene, traditionally set in the 18th century Naples, is characterized by terracotta shepherds.

The Genoese school of the nativity scene is well-established and prestigious as well, thanks to the accurate craftsmanship and precious materials, from wood to ceramic or paper, used to finish off the figures’ details such as clothes and faces. The golden era for the Genoese tradition was the first quarter of the 18th century, when reproductions of the cave in Bethlehem and the nativity characters weren’t hosted only in churches but also in the houses of nobles and bourgeois, causing the proliferation of shops specialized in the notching of Genoese wood.

Giannettino Luxoro was an art collector from Genoa at the beginning of XX century.

The building of the Luxoro Museum, as well as its furnishings, became the property of the Municipality of Genoa in 1946, thanks to the legacy of its last owner, Matteo. Without any direct heir, he ordered its transformation into a public museum in memory of his nephew Giannettino Luxoro, who had died prematurely during World War I.

Located in an elegant 17th-18th century Genoese villa in Nervi, the collections of the Luxoro family have been on display in this museum since 1951, including paintings, furniture, décor, ceramics, silver, mirrors, carved frames, and antique fabrics, as well as a series of valuable objects, mostly of Ligurian production, dating to the 17th and 18th centuries.

Of particular note is the collection of nativity figurines from the 17th and 18th centuries, and the collection of antique timepieces and pendulum clocks, including a set of rare nocturnals, among which the majestic models created by the Roman workshop of the Campani brothers at the end of the 17th century stand out.