What did the Medici, the Rothschilds and J.P. Morgan have in widespread? They had been all bankers who cast huge inventive legacies. They’re additionally a few of the stars of a sweeping present spotlighting main financiers and their artwork. Going down on the Milan department of the Gallerie d’Italia, the present explores the monetary world’s function in producing artwork, and artwork’s function in consolidating bankers’ social standing. It’s a grand investigation into how, within the phrases of the French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu, financial capital transforms into cultural and symbolic capital.
The exhibition covers a 500-year span—from the Medici to the Rothschilds—and a territorial sweep stretching from Europe to the US. Eleven sections, every devoted to a person banker, include 120 work, sculptures, drawings, engravings and bronzes by artists together with Michelangelo, Caravaggio, Anthony van Dyck, Angelica Kauffman and Giorgio Morandi. They embrace loans from the Musée du Louvre, the Nationwide Gallery in London, the Albertina in Vienna, the Staatliche Museen in Berlin and the Morgan Library and Museum in New York.
“Bankers are among the many most quite a few social classes of collectors on the earth,” says the co-curator Fernando Mazzocca. “We’ve got tried to point out their particular person tastes by the works they acquired and commissioned. What emerges is a way of the refinedness of every collector.”
Nicely-known patrons featured embrace Cosimo and Lorenzo de’ Medici, the highly effective grand dukes of Tuscany who funnelled monumental quantities of cash into the Florentine Renaissance, and Agostino Chigi, the Sienese financier of popes for whom Raphael frescoed the Villa Farnesina in Rome. Guests will be taught that the Torlonia household, famed at this time for proudly owning the biggest assortment of historical sculptures presently in personal arms, additionally commissioned artwork, as clear from Per un de’ piedi il furibondo Alcide afferra e scaglia Lica (1812)—“presumably [Antonio] Canova’s biggest work”, Mazzocca says.
The exhibition additionally explores what motivated the patrons. Some, like Lorenzo de’ Medici—whose portraits and busts by the likes of Pietro Torrigiano and Bronzino are included within the present—sought private glory. Others aimed to counterpoint society by artwork. Andrew Mellon, the US banking empire inheritor, began constructing the West Constructing of the Nationwide Gallery of Artwork in Washington, DC in 1937; following his dying, his son donated round 1,000 work—together with works by Raphael, Titian and Claude Monet—to the museum.
An accompanying catalogue contains in-depth essays assessing every banker’s legacy and detailed notes on the works. The largest discoveries relate to the extra obscure personalities, Mazzocca says. Everhard Jabach acquired collections from the Ludovisi in Rome and England’s King Charles I. Joachim Heinrich Wilhelm Wagener, whose 262 works constituted the most important personal assortment of up to date works in Prussia, shaped the premise of the Alte Nationalgalerie in Berlin.
The present’s venue, within the lavishly adorned headquarters of the previous Banca Commerciale Italiana (Comit), is symbolically important. The house now serves as one in all 4 Italian museums within the Gallerie d’Italia community, created by the Intesa Sanpaolo financial institution to show its personal artwork assortment. “With its museums, Intesa operates the form of cultural method we discover by this exhibition,” Mazzocca says.
The exhibition closes with a bit devoted to Raffaele Mattioli, the so-called “humanist banker”, who performed a number one function in orchestrating Italy’s post-war financial and cultural revival. Mattioli battled to protect the nation’s inventive heritage, shopping for Michelangelo’s Rondanini Pietà (1564) for town of Milan, to keep away from its expatriation to the US, and beginning the artwork assortment of the Comit financial institution, which he directed. He additionally actively supported established artists similar to Renato Guttuso and Morandi, by commissioning and shopping for their works each privately and thru the financial institution.
When Comit fused with different banks within the late Nineties to type the present Intesa Sanpaolo, its artwork assortment grew to become the premise of what’s now displayed within the Gallerie d’Italia. The hyperlink between the museums and Mattioli is embodied in Morandi’s Nonetheless Life (1946), commissioned by the banker, which is being exhibited in public for the primary time and closes the present. “This exhibition has been a uncommon alternative to check Mattioli,” Mazzocca says. “No one had realised fairly how a lot he had executed for artwork.”
• Patrons, Collectors, Philanthropists: from the Medici to the Rothschilds, Gallerie d’Italia, Milan, till 26 March 2023