The Amici 1814 Chef’s Knife celebrates the art of the engraver, a craft first developed in the 15th century.
When you enter Bottega Incisioni, you are greeted by a symphony of tapping. From each workstation a rhythm spills out, softly tapped out by a highly focused engraver using a small burin and a hammer, demonstrating incredible skill finely blended with precision.
The rapid tapping sounds again and again in short bursts. The engraver lifts the fine burin for a moment and replaces it – and the engraver's composition sounds again; a new tiny detail is added to the steel image. And again. And again. Watching how the engraver moves around the workpiece, almost floating, is quite beautiful and mesmerising – darting almost as deftly and unerringly as one of the buzzing bees engraved on the Amici 1814 blade, which similarly hovers effortlessly around a blossom in search of nectar. A delicate, very intuitive dance that creates its own rhythm. A dance in which the flowing movements skilfully trace their way from foot to hip along the shoulder and into the hand, shaping the steel.
What looks like a light-hearted dance in the workshop is a traditional art form that demands sensitivity, precision and endurance – it can take 20, 40 or even 80 hours to complete a work. Working at this intensity, the engraver needs to take constant short breaks. Most of the workplaces at Bottega Incisioni are located near large windows for this very reason, so that natural sunlight streams in at all times and the engravers can refresh their eyes with relaxing views of the countryside and the many sculptures in the garden.
Humans have always felt the need to record certain scenes of life for posterity. Well-known examples are the ancient cave drawings of hunting scenes. These primitive rock engravings were replaced over time by decorations on clay and only much later by engravings on metal.
In the Renaissance, metal engraving was first used to produce printing plates but soon the patterns achieved such precision and beauty that the art of engraving was also used to put the final flourishes on metal objects and it slowly but surely developed into the true art form that it is today.
To train as an engraver, an apprentice needs a real talent for depicting scenes and motifs through three-dimensional lines and also needs to draw well. It often takes many years from the first attempt to mastering this accomplished art and only a very few engravers reach the rank of master engraver.
Dario loved to draw and at just 14 years old he convinced Cesare Giovanelli to give him a chance; he knew what he wanted and worked tirelessly towards his goal. However, it was not an easy path; his teacher introduced him to the great art of engraving in small steps and endless years followed in which he slowly but surely learned how to transfer his drawings into actual engravings.
With great success! For today, Dario Cortini, as head of the Bottega C. Giovanelli School of Engraving, teaches others. The school is free to attend – talented people from around the globe come to train here. ‘Seventy per cent of the engravers in Italy have studied here,’ Dario reports.
Dario Cortini has become a respected artist in his field, continuing to work to perfect his extraordinary talent to this day. With his intuitive use of line and finely rendered shading, he manages to create a story-telling canvas from a blank sheet of steel.
When WÜSTHOF first approached me, I initially thought of a simple task, decorating a blade with some motifs. But as our collaboration grew, I realised that the task was more complex. WÜSTHOF wanted to pay tribute to the wonderful botanical diversity of Italy, telling a story that goes beyond the art edition of the Amici 1814.Dario Cortini on the design of the Amici 1814 engraving
Family is the heart of each of us, it makes you who you are. I consider each of my students to be part of my familyDario Cortini
Back in the early 1950s, Cesare Giovanelli, still just a teenager, began engraving in his parents’ kitchen. The young northern Italian had a dream – he was fascinated by the beauty of the traditional craft of engraving and wanted to become a professional engraver.
He was so passionate, skilled and motivated that, by 1955, despite starting with very little, he had sufficient commissions and resources to set up his own engraving workshop in Magno di Inzino, a small village above Gardone Val Trompia in the province of Brescia.
That was the beginning of a wonderful tale of success. Over the years, Bottega Incisioni C. Giovanelli has developed into a globally-respected workshop with over 45 engravers and employees who combine their craft with the fine arts in a unique way. As a result, the workshop has produced precious and unique pieces for some of the world's most famous people and brands – the Pope himself being one of them.
The engravers are motivated and inspired by the many works of art and the sculptures that the maestro has collected over the years, and which are placed all around his home and garden. As a result, the workshop has the charm of an inviting art gallery rather than the feel of a commercial workshop.
Despite his successes, Cesare has always remained down-to-earth. He loves art, his work and his homeland. He is proud that he and his team have managed to skilfully link the art of engraving, which originated in northern Italy in the 15th century, with the present day and that, in doing so, his life's work forms an art-filled bridge between his valley, his country and the world.