THE COLLECTION OF A TURINESE GENTLEMAN
According to each and every epoch, the art lover might be a prince, a bourgeois, an aristocrat, an eccentric or a maniac. And so, Francesca Molfino incorporated all these various types of collector. Their personalities are likened to a hunter on account of their fever-like passion, indefatigable yearning for the possession of objets. Artist books and autobiographies have given us mesmerising accounts of sumptuous residences and elegant international antique galleries as well as “damp little underground caverns” or “hot and sweaty attics” (Matteo Campori) where you might find masterpieces, experience moments of sheer exaltation or the deepest of disappointments.
The collection being presented here is about to give us the heightened experience – on account of the collection’s dust-covered appearance and variety of works – the sense of trepidation enjoyed by the person who created it. We are about to understand the emotions within such a collection and the pleasure of discovery. The collection’s very incoherence is witness to an unconditioned love towards painting and a careful search for works that have sometimes been overlooked or misunderstood. Once the paintings were purchased they were photographed and attentively examined. This we can understand from the handwritten notes on the backs of the photographs with the provenance, hypothetical attributions, bibliographical references and even the telephone numbers and the names of the art historians. Such information has enabled us to follow the work undertaken by the owner who strove to add a prestigious name to the repertoire of his discoveries. This indeed is the case with the Leonardesque painting that has now been recognised by Francesco Frangi to be by the maestro of Ercole Visconti. A similar occurrence concerns the Christ and Adultress by the maestro of Monticelli d’Ongina, thought to be a work of Gioacchino Assereto. The Saint Ignatius, attributed to Giovanni Battista Beinaschi by Raffaello Causa would, as a matter of fact, correspond quite perfectly to the Maltese works of Mattia Preti. The Samson against the Philistines by Luca Giordano is without any shadow of doubt by the Neapolitan maestro and appeared in the monograph compiled by Ferrari and Scavizzi in its first edition in 1968.
This is also a collection that represents the open-mindedness of its creator who was interested in exploring new territories and cultures and was, especially, keen to welcome into his collection some of painting’s more difficult examples, in the true traditions of highly cultivated connoisseurship.