On 23 September, the thirtieth-anniversary edition of the Biennale Internazionale dell’Antiquariato di Firenze will be opening its doors at the traditional venue, Palazzo Corsini on Florence’s Lungarno.
For some time now, the organisers have been at work, under the attentive supervision of Secretary General Fabrizio Moretti, to ensure that this edition will meet the expectations of the Biennial’s increasingly international public and the needs of an ever more demanding clientele.
Even the venue, Palazzo Corsini, will be ‘new’ this year, with an original exhibition layout entrusted to well-known Venetian interior designer and set designer Matteo Corvino of Venice. ‘The new Biennial layout will be a mix of modernity and elegance. After the extraordinary results achieved by Pier Luigi Pizzi, whom I would like to thank for his invaluable contribution, the Biennial has chosen to continue on its way with Matteo Corvino, who – with his magic touch – will surely succeed in making this one of the world’s most beautiful palazzi even more special,’ Moretti explains.
Visitors will be welcomed to the Baroque halls of Palazzo Corsini by a novel layout and carefully-selected works reviewed by an authoritative international Scientific Committee. Beginning at this edition, the timeline of the pieces on show will extend through the 1980s. ‘This is a choice,’ Moretti clarifies, ‘that reflects the trend we are seeing at all the major sector events around the world and which intends to favour a type of collecting that has shown a clear preference for mixing works of different eras, from archaeological finds to contemporary pieces, touching on all the great moments in art history everywhere.’
The ‘leaks’ about what we will be seeing in Florence from 23 September through 1 October point to an edition abounding in suggestions for collectors of all leanings.
Among the high-profile curiosities, the Verona-marble ‘letterbox’ for anonymous complaints, a 17th-century piece presented by Galleria W. Apolloni of Rome. Galleria Michel Descours will be proposing a portrait of the theatre actor Tiberio Fiorilli in the Role of Scaramouche by Pietro Paolini, which belonged to the actor’s brother. Galleria Alberto di Castro will be exhibiting an important group of never-before-seen drawings by Luigi Valadier’s workshop: preparatory sketches for a decoration for the bronze bell of Saint Peter’s Basilica. W&K Wienerroither & Kohlbacher will be presenting another collection of drawings, this time by Gustav Klimt, including a study for his celebrated painting Salomé (Judith II). Enrico Frascione will be showing another drawing yet, a study of a male nude by Tintoretto.
Carlo Orsi will be proposing a commesso in semi precious materials on slate created by the Opificio delle Pietre Dure of Florence in the early years of the 17th century and depicting the Return from the Flight into Egypt in ivory, maple, rosewood and amber inlays; Dario Ghio will be exhibiting a cameo with a bust of Louis XIV that reveals a truly little-known side of the Marquise de Pompadour, the subject’s lover and the author of the portrait finely engraved in the stone.
In the field of painting, the offer is extraordinary, with works that stand out in terms of both quality and provenance. Among the many: from Colnaghi, a series of anthropomorphic still-lifes representing the Seasons, by Giovanni Paolo Castelli, also known as Lo Spadino. For its first appearance at the Biennial, Lullo Pampoulides will be proposing a beautiful Battle between Greeks and Romans by Livio Mehus; Galleria Cantore will be showing Orazio Samacchini’s Rest on the Flight into Egypt, documented in the Giustiniani collection and later in the Hohenzollern imperial collection. Of note at Giovanni Sarti’s stand, a portrayal of a battle from an episode in the Life of Julius Caesar painted by the Master of Marradi in the late 1400s. Galleria Lumina will be exhibiting a portrait of Orazio Piccolomini, by Justus Suttermans, that was once owned by Grand Duchess Vittoria della Rovere. Galleria Berardi, instead, will be showcasing Karl Bryullov, a major 19th-century Russian artist who worked for important patrons in his homeland and in Italy, and his equestrian portrait of Anatoly Demidov.
Sculpture, of which we will be seeing some exceptional examples at the Biennial, merits special mention.
Meheringer Benappi will be bringing to Florence a 16th-century work by Giovanni Angelo Del Maino portraying St. John the Evangelist; Giovanni Pratesi will be presenting a marble sculpture of The Triumph of Virtue over Vice by Battista Lorenzi. A terracotta Christ the Redeemer (1510-1520) by Benedetto Buglioni will be coming to Palazzo Corsini from Galleria Botticelli. Riccardo Bacarelli will be exhibiting a terracotta Portrait of a Man by Gaetano Merchi, from 1783. Tomasso Brothers will be showing a bronze work by Massimiliano Soldani Benzi entitled Ganymede and the Eagle. Altomani & Sons will be gracing Palazzo Corsini with a white porcelain bust of Marchese Carlo Andrea Ignazio Ginori, modelled by Gaspare Bruschi for the Manifattura Ginori of Doccia in the mid-1700s. Galleria Carlo Virgilio will be presenting a Carrara-marble Sleep of Endymion attributed to Virgilio Aristodemo Costoli; Galleria Orsini will be showing a pair of two-faced anthropomorphic sculptures of Antinous-Osiris, of esoteric-Masonic inspiration.
Going on to furnishings, from Piva & C. we will be seeing a pair of small Venetian divans lacquered with floral motifs and dated to the second half of the 18th century; Alessandra di Castro will be showing a pair of bedside tables with raised backs and kneelers fabricated in Rome in the mid-1700s.
These are the first indiscretions about a Biennial that is being heralded by an air of expectation, unlike anything we have seen in at least the last decade.
BIAF 2017 is supported by the contributions of the Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Firenze and main sponsor AXA ART. Partners: Federalberghi Firenze, Fratelli Piccini, Porsche and Centro Porsche Firenze, Stefano Ricci, Dr. Vranjes. Media partners: Antiquariato, Apollo, Artribune, Artslife.
Dates and opening hours
from 23 September to 1 October 2017, from 10:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Thursday, 28 September 2017 from 10:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Admission: € 15, reduced price € 10