The discerning eye and impeccable taste of a Milan businessman with a passion for art shaped the identity of this lovely group of around 60 mostly Italian paintings, executed between 1850 and about 1950. The main movements in Italian art during that period are represented, from the Macchiaioli (Giovanni Fattori’s Lanciers àl’affût) to Pittura Metafisica, Realism, Impressionism and Divisionism. Amassed in the 1950s-1970s, the works belonged to the enlightened collector’s descendants until today.
The collector’s taste for landscapes, often without figures, is obvious: Emilio Longoni’s very beautiful Symbolist-inspired work Lac blanc et lac noir, col de la Bernina is found alongside mountain landscapes by Angelo Morbelli, Guglielmo Ciardi and Eugenio Gignous as well as city views by Emma Ciardi and Filippo de Pisis. Several portraits of pensive young women and close-up interior views imbue the collection with a poetic mood. They include deeply insightful psychological portraits such as Odoardo Borrani’s Jeune fille au chat, Felice Casorati’s meditative Étudiante and Federico Zandomeneghi’s spiritual Lucie.
Surrealism also caught the collector’s eye. Giorgio de Chirico signed both of the auction’s flagship lots: Internometafisico con officine, in which a painting within the painting can be seen—a landscape of factories with smoking chimneys—and an enigmatic Piazza d’Italia. Three works by Gregorio Sciltian, an Armenian-Italian artist who greatly admired de Chirico, including a surprising Portrait de mannequin en bois, close the sale.