Collecting Antique Ironwork in Italy

SERIES: Private passions. Beauty all around - Collecting frameworks, in conversation with antiquarians and experts  - Under the aegis of Costantino D’Orazio, art historian, in collaboration with the Associazione Antiquari d’Italia
SPEAKERS: Alessandro Cesati and Mario Scalini
DATE: Thursday 20 July, 6pm
PLACE: Palazzo Venezia, Sala del Refettorio

Among its countless hidden resources, the Museo Nazionale del Palazzo di Venezia includes the Pace collection, a substantial and remarkable collection of iron objects that is truly unique in the history of Italian private collecting from the late 19th and early 20th century. The approximately 680 pieces in the Pace collection were originally part of the Museo Artistico Industriale (M.A.I.) in Rome, and when it closed they were merged with the reserve collections of the Museum of Palazzo Venezia. Here they are still preserved in chests of drawers in the same order in which they were exhibited on the premises of the M.A.I., awaiting their rightful and appropriate presentation. Keys, locks, padlocks, door knockers and other artefacts of various origins and provenances document the varied and complex results of Italian and European production over the centuries. They bear witness to a special interest in artistic metalwork, a rather rare phenomenon in Italy compared to the much broader and historical spread of iron collecting in other nations of the Old Continent.

Alessandro Cesati's biography

Graduated in architecture from the Politecnico di Milano with a thesis on the history of the key. Together with his forty years of national and international activity as an antiquarian, he conducts research and study in the field of metal artworks, with a specific interest in iron artefacts. He organised the exhibitions “Congegni mirabili” (1989), “Incudini” (1990), “Morsi da cavallo” (1993) and was curator and coordinator of the catalogue of the important exhibition “Ferro Civile”, Galleria Lorenzelli (Bergamo, 1991). He is the author of “Clavis. Chiavi serrature e forzieri dalla Collezione Conforti” (Franco Maria Ricci, 1992); “Fire steels” (Umberto Allemandi, 1996); “Locks-Serrature” (Cesati & Cesati, 2007); “Doorknockers-Picchiotti da porta” (Cesati & Cesati, 2009); “Tools-Utensili” (Cesati & Cesati, 2013), “Equus frenatus” (Brescia, 2015).

Mario Scalini's biography

Mario Scalini, an international expert on armes blanches, graduated in 1978 from the Università di Firenze and then obtained a research grant at the Zentralinstitut für Kunstgeschichte in Munich. Specialising in the applied arts, ancient history and history of weapons and armour, he studied the history of the collections of noble Italian families, in particular Tuscany and Emilia-Romagna. He has been director of Palazzo Mozzi Bardini in Florence and the Villa Medicea in Cerreto Guidi, Superintendent for the Historical, Artistic and Ethno-Anthropological Heritage in Modena and Reggio Emilia and director of the Polo Museale dell’Emilia Romagna. For many years he was a lecturer at the Opificio della Pietre dure in Florence, a member of the Accademia Clementina and director of the Istituto Centrale per la Grafica in Rome.