Piero della Francesca's Madonna Villamarina on display in Turin
Emanuele D'Azeglio for Vanity Fair June 20th 1874
Emanuele D’Azeglio caricatured for Vanity Fair 1874

Turin’s own Palazzo Madama is a rising star on the sky of my personal museum preferences: from photography exhibitions to literature flavored installations, it seem to have it all. Its latest accomplishment: the wonderful display of one of the biggest and most important Italian private art collections: that of diplomat, museum director and art connoisseur Vittorio Emanuele Taparelli d’Azeglio (1816-1890). The exhibition, available from December 2nd, 2016 to March 6th,2017 and entitled “Collecting as Passion”, reflects nothing but the lifelong penchant the Turin-born aristocrat had for ceramics and gilded glass, for graffiti and paintings and the lengths he went to in order to acquire his most valuable pieces. Also, couldn’t harm the fact that his own (let’s call it successful money-wise) family already had in store some pretty amazing collectibles.Besides his impressive diplomatic career, D’Azeglio also proved to be a remarkable art expert and collector (he was also the director of Museo Civico di Torino for over 10 years), skills he had the chance to hone during his London stay as a minister plenipotentiary. In an era when travelling across Europe (or the world, for that matter) in search for rare antiquities or art oddities was bon-ton and spread like fever among the well-to-do, D’Azeglio couldn’t stay aside, but put the shoulder to the foundation of the now-famous Burlington Club and developed a passion for collecting pretty much everything out there, from Chinese and Japanese porcelain to paintings by old masters, from Italian majolica and porcelain to painted glass.

Very rare Meissen armorial coffee and tea service with the arms of Taparelli, circa 1735-40
Very rare Meissen armorial coffee and tea service with the arms of Taparelli, circa 1735-40

The exhibition aims at familiarizing the visitor with D’Azeglio’s life and collecting interests and to introduce the main “treasures” in his posession, of which the most remarkable are: the 15th century so-called “illuminated manuscripts” Sforza and d’Avalos (bought in London and then transferred to the Royal Library of Turin), two outstanding dishes in Renaissance majolica (now at the Bargello National Museum in Florence), Piero della Francesca’s famous Madonna Villamarina (presently preserved at the Cini Foundation in Venice), a desk built “alla mazzarina” by Luigi Prinotto which belonged to the D’Azeglio family and is now on display at Venaria Reale, a genuine Meissen service also belonging to the Taparelli family and found exceptionally intact to this very day, discovered due to one of Massimo D’Azeglio’s still-life studies which portrays one of the cups.

And who doesn’t like a good cup of tea, albeit an empty one?

N.B. If still skeptic about this “collecting stuff”, visit Bonhams website for about 10 minutes – you’ll be amazed and mesmerized about the things worth”fight for”. Obviously, you most necessarily need lots and lots of money, too.

WHERE: Palazzo Madama, Piazza Castello, Torino

WHEN: from December 2nd, 2016 to March 6th, 2017

HOW MUCH: full €10,00, reduced fee €8,00; free entry for minors under 6 years old and for holders of Abbonamento MuseiTorino Card

When In Turin

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