Art dealer Elia Volpi (1858–38) is known in Florence as the “father” of the Museum of the Old Florentine House in Palazzo Davanzati as he was responsible for restoring the building and turning it into a private museum in 1910. Now the museum, in via Porta Rossa, is opening its “Homage to Elia Volpi the Painter” exhibition, which offers the chance to discover a lesser-known side of the illustrious collector and antiquarian: his experience as an artist.
After training at Florence’s Academy of Fine Arts in Florence, Volpi ventured into art production. The exhibition focuses on his training and the paintings he produced between the 1870s and 1890s through displays of his artworks and sketches, mostly in pristine condition, which have been donated to the museum from private collections. His sketches are testament of his studies of the Italian Renaissance masters and, along with the male nudes, show off the early artistic skills of a young Volpi. The paintings demonstrate his broad range; during the 1880s he explored church scenes before concentrating on the subjects and style of the Macchiaioli and more contemporary artists such as Francesco Gioli and Niccolò Cannicci.
The show also includes a multimedia section featuring a video that focuses on the artist’s personal life and a touch-screen panel with photographs that demonstrate the creation of the museum.
The exhibition is open from May 6 to August 5 in the Palazzo Davanzati Museum.