History roots of the

Torrini Goldsmith Lineage

 

Visit the Torrini 1369 Museum

 


“Jacopus Turini de la Scharperia facit hoc signum"

(The document containing the trademark’s registration currently conserved in the State Archives in Florence)

 

We are in the first half of 1300 and this history is linked to a sign. The entire history started from a key figure, that of Jacopus Turini, who moves to Scarperia taking advantage of the exemption from taxes and levies decades and freedom from any constraint and feudal serfdom granted from Florence to the inhabitants of the "new lands". He comes from the village of Battiloro, a cluster of houses near Borgo S. Lorenzo, with his father Bernardo and his brother Tura, in fact the founder of the Lineage, working with great skill all metals and the precious gold reducing it in leaves.
Their fame spread and Tura moved to Siena to collaborate with their art to the construction of the Cathedral. He worked in a workshop in the center of the city, carrying out his activity with great skill and a mastery of all the techniques. He handed down the secrets of his craft to his children and pupils.
Jacopus in his new workshop of Scarperia instead produces armour and cuirasses for the knights that pass along the trans Apennine road of the “Giogo” to reach Florence. Are times when armor is valuable because these artifacts ensure the defense. The artisans of armor and weapons are among the most sought after and Jacopus, in addition to the protection functions for which they are used, also addressed a lot of attention to aesthetics, to the creation of extraordinary works of art.
For regulating the countryside craftsmen activities that come into contact with foreigners passing through Florence the Republic requires them to register at the correspondent Guild.
Jacopus registers his trademark, the Signum, to the Guild of Cuirasse Makers, Locksmiths and Iron Masters of Florence. It is 1369.
It is assumed by some indirect written, but there is no documentation, which also Jacopus towards the end of the century joined his brother in Siena, thus giving life to the familiar branch that created a fascinating human journey.

The "Signum", that is the trade-mark, is the unquestioned link that confirms this family’s long tradition as goldsmiths. The Torrini family have handed it down from father to son for more than six centuries, almost unwittingly, giving to it the auspicious significance of half a four-leafed clover with a spur.
Tura and his descendants of Siena, the Turini, were recipients of great attention. The commissions and cultural encounters accumulated and multiplied; they collaborated with numerous artists, leaving there magnificent masterpieces that enriched the city.
In addition to their activity as goldsmiths, in their workshop they also experimented with enamel and niello; they sculpted stone and wood for interior decoration, and created magnificent polychrome wood sculptures that can be still admired in Montalcino, Sant'Ansano and Siena.
Barna, Turino, Giovanni, Lorenzo, Paolo
and many other members of the Turini family were complete artists. With their specificity and skills, they also vied with Florentine artists and played an active and important role in the evolution of the goldsmithing art in Tuscany.

Giovanni Turini was not only the strongest artistic personality from the workshop, because he knew and practiced many different techniques with great versatility, but he was also the most representative figure of the goldsmith’s art in Siena during the first half of the 14th century, as Vasari wrote in his Commentary on the Life of Pollaiuolo.
The Baptismal Font in the Baptistery of Siena is the masterpiece where the bronze reliefs created together with his father Turino make a beautiful impression next to those made by the greatest artists of that time, such as Jacopo della Quercia, Donatello, and Ghiberti, whom he befriended.
The past history of the house testifies that the members of the Torrini Family held the prestigious post of Prior in Siena a good 28 times, thus acquiring the title of "Nobles of Siena". This happened during the middle of the 15th century.

As a result of the wars between Guelfi and Ghibellines, or perhaps simply because they finished the construction of the Duomo, the Turini returned in 1500 in their native land, Mugello, Borgo San Lorenzo and Scarperia, thus reuniting the family strain and transforming, maybe then, the surname in Torrini.
In the late 1600s a branch moved in Umbria while some documents give us historical certainty that the family strain continued the business in Mugello and in Florence.
Information has been found on Francesco Torrini’s goldsmith workshop, whose registration to the Silk Guild on Nov. 13th, 1700 has been preserved until today. We discovered that Maestro Francesco run a shop on Ponte Vecchio in 1703.
In the 1841 Census (spool n° 30), conserved in the State Archives of Florence, in the section dedicated to the population of the Parish of San Salvatore d'Ognissanti, we found some information on another key figure of the family: Giocondo Torrini, born in 1827. Giocondo Torrini had a shop at Number 6 of Lungarno Nuovo. Thanks to his rare skills, combined with his talent as a trader, he attained international fame by participating in the European World’s Fairs, and obtained great success with the public.
The European World's Fairs put Torrini in contact with the French and English trends from the second half of the 19th century. He promptly assimilated the aesthetic messages, the cultural references, and the renewal trends that the decorative arts were codifying.
His activity is documented by several honorable mentions and awards that can be traced in the catalogues of various Fairs and Exhibitions, and the existence of many jewels such as the elegant set preserved at the British Museum in London, consisting of a brooch and a pair of earrings with mosaic plaques depicting Pliny's doves. In addition to Giocondo’s signature, all the jewels bear the unmistakable trademark, the Signum of Jacopus.
In 1919, Guido Torrini began his career as a goldsmith in the workshop in Piazza S. Trinita (Florence); then, he opened shops in Florence, Chianciano Terme, Chiusi and Taormina. He became one of the main shareholders of the former jewelry store in Piazza Duomo in Florence. He creates Deco style jewelry, objets d'art in precious stones embellished with gold parts and since he’s fond of watches, he made the first Torrini pocket watch in 1931. In 1945, after coming back from Dachau where he was political deportee, he tenaciously rebuilt its activity, wiped out by the war.
The story continues with his son Franco, who completed his studies in watch-making in Geneva and dedicated himself to jewelry and gemstones after absorbing the art from his father and the goldsmith masters he had been working with at the family workshop. Since the 70s, Franco has been expressing his creativity also as a painter and sculptor, encouraged by many contemporary artists he met along the way. The survival of the historic shop in Piazza Duomo was again put to the test by the 1966 flood of the Arno.
Today, the Goldsmith Manufacture, led by Fabrizio Torrini as a modern Renaissance workshop, elaborates ideas that skilled goldsmiths bring to life according to modern standards. These unique and inimitable jewels are born from both tradition and contemporary creativity: they conquer the world by transmitting the Torrinis’ six-centuries-old passion for beauty and aspiration to express it. Over time, the Family members have created with humility and great craftsmanship the countless masterpieces we can still admire, with the vocation Renaissance artists had towards the use of different materials and fascinating mixed techniques.
The Historic Shop of Piazza Duomo in Florence, dating back to the end of the 19th century, with the personal contribution of Francesca Torrini and her son Guido, continues to play its institutional role as a “first window” and permanent exhibition of the entire production by the Torrini Goldsmith Lineage.
Even the choice to own and preserve its own brand (the Signum of Jacopus) over the centuries, to use it and pass it on to future generations, highlights the Family’s awareness of its own history as a forerunner of the real “Made in Italy”.
After more than 600 years, the Signum, the old trademark registered by Jacopus, is still the symbol of the Torrini jewelry creations.

 

 

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