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A roman antique dealer, goldsmith, and jeweller, renowned for seeking to revive the styles of Etruscan jewelry.
After a time in his father's jewelry workshop in Rome, 1814-15, making jewelry in the French and English traditions, he became interested during the late 1820s in Etruscan jewelry and sought to learn the method of producing its granulated gold. He located some artisans in Umbria who were thought, incorrectly as it eventuated, to have preserved the ancient techniques and he brought them to Rome for his research.
After failing to find the old secret processes, he did succeed, with his sons, Alessandro (1822-83) and Augusto (1829-1914), in making simulations that became world-famous. He also produced jewelry with miniature mosaic work. He retired c. 1851 and the Casa Castellani was continued by his sons, who extended the work in archeological jewelry to include Byzantine and Carolingian styles.
Augusto continued to carry on the business and later became Director of the Capitoline Museum in Rome. Allesandro, a great collector, devoted himself to workshop experimenting and to restoration of antique pieces; after a period of imprisonment, 1850-58, for political activity, he continued his research work while living in exile in Naples. Much of his Etruscan-style jewelry was acquired by the British Museum in 1872-3 and by the Villa Giulia Museum in Rome, and his Italian peasant jewelry by the Victoria & Albert Museum in 1867 and 1884.
The Castellanis had for many years as their patron and adviser Michelangelo Caetani, Duke of Sermoneta (1804-83), who designed for them some pieces in antique style. They employed Carlo Giuliano as designer and as agent in London, and also employed Giacinto Melillo.
The Castellanis made gold settings for some cameos carved by Tommaso Saulini. Their work became very popular in England, and was extensively imitated there and in Italy, France, and the United States. Their mark is a monogram with interlaced C's back to back.
From: An Illustrated Dictionary of Jewelry, autor: Harold Newman, publishers: Thames and Hudson