Italian Intrigue

With the arrival of one remarkable study of Florentine creation, Houston is having an Italian moment. The Houston Museum of Natural Science%26rsquo;s %26ldquo;Gems of the Medici%26rdquo; exhibit (through March 31) presents striking engraved and carved gems from the House of Medici%26rsquo;s vaults. The Florence-based Medici family had a penchant for collecting objects that had previously belonged to sovereigns and members of the church. Extraordinary items on display include a 17th-century bust of a female Moor rendered in luscious baroque pearls, enamel, agate and diamonds (pictured); an early-15th-century carnelian creation, carved in the negative, that hauntingly depicts a Dominican friar known for his cautionary homilies; and a late-17th-century touchstone vase showing an intimate embrace between a gilt bronze cupid and a silver swan. Houston Museum of Natural Science, 5555 Hermann Park Dr., 713.639.4629;

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