Strolling the streets and peering curiously into the windows of artisans’ workshops and at the dazzling displays of art dealers is one of the main draws for anyone creatively inclined. One of the many thoroughfares where it’s rewarding to dawdle is via Maggio, which is home to a number of antique dealers and galleries.
The pleasure of entering into one of these Aladdin’s caves was granted to the press on March 18 for the preview of the Antique Paintings and Furniture exhibition at Tornabuoni Arte – Arte Antica at via Maggio 40. The visit was doubly intriguing, given it was followed by the inauguration of the new exhibition space at via de’ Tornabuoni 5, one of the most sought-after streets for all sellers.
At both venues, one exquisite piece follows another as beauty surrounds at every turn. Expertly curated, the showrooms are nothing short of stunning as several periods and artists are represented in the galleries. The new site is, in fact, not new; the space was where the whole history of Tornabuoni Arte began in 1981, growing to house showrooms in Milan, Paris and Forte dei Marmi, in addition to three Florentine locations.
Renowned gallerist Roberto Casamonti commented, “It was deeply emotional for me to have the opportunity to open the gallery in the place where I started. I even found an old sign from that time. Here, I have had exhibitions of works by Lucio Fontana, Emilio Vedova, Sebastian Matta, and many others. It’s the place where I found my most loyal customers, who supported my work over the years that followed.”
The motto “Art has no age” is reflected in the fact that the gallerist also vaunts the curated Collezione Roberto Casamonti a stone’s throw away, in piazza di Santa Trinita. Displaying modern and contemporary pieces dating from the early 20th century through to today, lesser-known works by Boetti, Basquiat and Mirò fill the space. Works dating to earlier periods, however, are showcased at Tornabuoni Arte – Arte Antica and are available for purchase. There’s a feeling of spotting something special when you catch a glimpse of these articles before they reach their forever homes. Casamonti related how he “sold a piece while I was sitting in my car; I got a call while I was driving and pulled in to confirm the sale”, speaking to the eagerness of collectors and all those appassionati d’arte.
We began by admiring works from the 14th century before stepping forward through the centuries, marveling at masterpieces in a resplendent mix of periods and styles. Florentine painting is, of course, particularly present, but we also surpass the bounds of the Renaissance city to reach further into Tuscany and beyond. Landscapes, still lifes, Venetian views and portraits alternate with works made from marble and wood, and you’re never quite sure what delight awaits next. Undoubtedly, one of the most spectacular pieces is the Sleeping Ariadne by Benedetto Cacciatori, an 1830 replica of the world-renowned work viewable in the Uffizi Gallery. As Casamonti pointed out, “There’s beauty everywhere, look! There are even golden ducks on these chairs.” His passion is palpable and, as the catalogue rightly states, “An art collection mirrors the taste and attitude of the collector”.
Roberto Casamonti has more than proven his eye for awe-inducing pieces and the 16th-century Palazzo Strozzi del Poeta on via Tornabuoni is a suitably elegant abode for the expertly chosen and remarkable artworks.