MOSTRA PRINCIPE (Main Exhibition)
“ENRICO MAGNANI PESCIA. THE ART OF HANDMADE PAPER SINCE 1481“
The Mostra Principe (Main Exhibition) of this 27th edition was dedicated to “Enrico Magnani Pescia. The art of handmade paper since 1481” which, over time and still today, links its production to international artists, writers and names of excellence.
Set up in the Palazzo Corsini Ballroom, the exhibition exceptionally displayed a selection of historical watermarked paper moulds, kept at the Museo della Carta di Pescia, and some important archival documents including – to commemorate the two hundred years since his death – the deckle for the paper which Magnani created in 1812 with the portraits of Napoleon Bonaparte and of Marie Louise, Duchess of Parma, for the celebrations of the Emperor’s wedding.
“The life of the Paper mill” was recreated in a special section, where it was possible to study the different phases of the manufacturing process through the live work of the master papermaker, while he was making the paper by hand; of the master filigree artist who illustrated the process of making a watermark; as well as to discover the technique of sewing the watermark onto the paper mould, by means of a special sewing machine.
Finally, in the Exhibition, a calligrapher gave handwriting demonstrations.
A unique and precious historical archive, that of Casa Magnani, established in Pescia – according to archival sources – since the 15th century. A unique and great dynasty of paper makers, the Magnani family has been in Emilia since 1200 and through successive migrations moved to Liguria and Tuscany, finally settling in Pescia, creating a fine paper for centuries and establishing itself on world markets. It is therefore not surprising to find Magnani paper kept in the most important museums, in the letters of the Shelley brothers and of Lord Byron; in the Indian religious text Bhagavata Purana; in a collection of drawings and prints made in Iran under the Qajar Dynasty and in a vast corpus of works from the late 18th-early 19th century, today at the Gabinetto dei Disegni (Cabinet of Drawings) in the Castello Sforzesco in Milan. Magnani brands have recently been discovered in the documents of Giacomo Leopardi preserved in the poet’s birthplace.
There are two macro sectors of reference: writing and printing paper, and watermarked paper for revenue stamps and security papers (shares, bank checks, banknotes).
In the first area, for which the Magnani family created and developed personalised watermarks, it is worth mentioning Maestro Giacomo Puccini and the personalised writing paper for commander Gabriele D’Annunzio. The watermarks in the paper attest to the use of Magnani products also by artists such as Pablo Picasso – in particular a collection of drawings kept at the Picasso Museum in Paris – Giorgio Morandi, Giorgio De Chirico, Alberto Burri, Pietro Annigoni, Lorenzo Viani.
Important customers from the food, banking and insurance, automotive and transport, energy, petrochemical and metallurgical and fashion sectors currently turn to Casa Magnani.
After the crisis of the 1980s, the Carrara family, linked to Casa Magnani by ancient family ties, takes up the baton as an element of continuity and renewal, dedicating itself with enthusiasm and passion to safeguarding and preserving the huge Magnani heritage.
In 2005, the Carrara family bought the eighteenth-century Le Carte di Pescia Paper Mill, formerly Magnani, closed since 1992, to donate it to the Associazione Museo della Carta di Pescia ETS.
The Magnani Pescia Social Entrepreneurship, is a project born in 2021 in collaboration with the Associazione Museo della Carta di Pescia Onlus (Non-profit Organisation), with the aim of using the experience and know-how of now retired Master Papermakers, Filigree Artists and Sewers to train young people eager to learn the secrets of making paper by hand: a plan for safeguarding and for passing on these skills and expertise to new generations which would otherwise be lost.