Luigi Valadier in Nicaragua (Hardcover)
An intriguing story of the search for, and discovery of, a wonderful and rare work of art thought lost for centuries.
In 1767 and 1768, a number of objects made by the renowned eighteenth-century Roman goldsmith Luigi Valadier (1726-1785) were sent from Rome to a "principal church in Mexico," but until recently they had been thought lost or destroyed. Among these was a monumental silver-gilt monstrance "destined for a principal church of Mexico that is in the Indies of Spain." During the course of The Frick Collection's 2018 exhibition Luigi Valadier: Splendor in Eighteenth-Century Rome curated by Xavier F. Salomon and Alvar Gonz lez-Palacios, Salomon kept asking himself where this principal church in Mexico might be and whether the lost silver-gilt monstrance might be found. The odds of recovering it and other items were slim because objects made of gold, silver, and precious stones were so often melted for cash or recycling. In fact, most of Valadier's works of this type do not survive; we know about them only from invoices, descriptions, and inventories.
After an extensive search, Salomon located the lost monstrance in the Cathedral of Le n in Nicaragua. Finally able to travel to Le n in 2022, Salomon was able to verify that in addition to the monstrance, approximately twenty-five other "lost" objects--chandeliers, reliquaries, a chalice, and candlesticks, many of them bearing Valadier's seal--are works by Valadier, many of them used in the daily liturgy of the cathedral. Thus, for more than two hundred and fifty years this sacred treasure--the largest surviving Valadier collection in the world--has been known only to worshippers in Le n, their origin a mystery, until now.