• Yearning for Italy.
    International Collecting
    in the Rome of the Vittoriano


  • Yearning for Italy.
    International Collecting
    in the Rome of the Vittoriano

    8 APRIL 2018


The exhibition offers visitors the first comprehensive display of the vast and astonishing collection which American husband and wife George Washington Wurts and Henrietta Tower put together at the turn of the 19th century and subsequently donated to the Italian state – specifically to the museum of Palazzo Venezia, where it is still housed today. The exhibition also sets out to recreate the context: that unique turn-of-the-century approach to collecting which became so intimately bound up with Italy that it frequently resulted in the donation either of individual works or of entire collections to the Italian state. The exhibition explores the dynamics of (particularly Anglo-American) collecting and of the international market against the backdrop of radical change being experienced by the young Italian nation and its new capital, Rome, in those years. The construction of the Vittoriano, which began in 1885 and was completed and inaugurated to coincide with the Exhibition celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of Italian unity in 1911, became the very emblem symbolising the city at the dawn of the 20th century.

The section of the exhibition hosted in Palazzo Venezia is devoted to the Wurts, showcasing the most significant works from their collection, many of which were removed from storage, studied and cleaned specially for the occasion.

The context within which the Wurts’ passion for collecting flourished is ideally recreated in the Gallerie Sacconi at the Vittoriano, where numerous exhibits from prestigious Italian and foreign museums and private collections conjure up the atmosphere of a world made of auctions, of dealers, of markets both national and international, and of the triumph of quality craftsmanship inspired by a stylistic revisitation of the art of the past. The exhibition unfolds in parts of the Vittoriano that include recently restored areas not normally open to the public, including the Gallerie Sacconi themselves, thus shining the spotlight on the monument’s interior architecture which, far from simply hosting the exhibition as a mere theatre or “vessel”, ends up playing a leading role in and of itself.


The exhibition is hosted in two venues, Palazzo Venezia and the Gallerie Sacconi in the Vittoriano. For the duration of the exhibition, a single ticket will be available admitting the holder once only to the panoramic lifts to the top of the Vittoriano, to the “Yearning for Italy” exhibition in the Gallerie Sacconi at the Vittoriano and to Palazzo Venezia (“Yearning for Italy” exhibition + museum’s permanent collections).

The section of the exhibition hosted in Palazzo Venezia showcases the collection of objets d’art and curios put together by George Wurts and Henrietta Tower, an American couple from Philadelphia. He was a member of the US diplomatic corps while she came from an extremely wealthy family that had ammassed a fortune in the coal, steel and railroad industries. Together they decided to donate Villa Sciarra and their entire collection, comprising over 4,000 pieces, to the Italian state between 1928 and 1933. The exhibition sets out to illustrate the nature of that collection by showcasing its most important pieces, the impact it had on the history of taste, and the richness and variety of the works it comprises as well as their specific significance for Italy’s national art heritage. All this, against the backdrop of their relationship with Rome and its social environment at the turn of the 19th century, thanks also to the exhibition venue that has been the Wurts collection’s home since 1933. Little known even to the experts, the collection is displayed here for the very first time as a single unit.

L’altra sede della mostra è dedicata alla presentazione del contesto storico sociale entro cui vissero i Wurts e gli altri collezionisti attivi in Italia, con particolare attenzione per gli anglo-americani. I temi che si intrecciano sono quelli del collezionismo, della donazione delle opere d’arte, del mercato artistico, delle esportazioni, della tutela del patrimonio culturale e, infine, della posizione degli artisti italiani rispetto all’universo dell’antiquariato, tra la produzione in stile e quanto genericamente possiamo definire “artigianato artistico”. La sezione dedicata al falso, e al suo commercio, rappresenta un risvolto di questa narrazione. I pezzi della mostra sono in costante gioco di richiamo col monumento in cui si trovano, il Vittoriano, in particolare il percorso introduttivo alla mostra che è un inedito e suggestivo viaggio nel ventre del monumento; così anche la sezione conclusiva, chiamata “La vertigine del fregio”, dedicata alla sua inaugurazione nel 1911.



"A Tribute to Duke Ellington"

"A Tribute to Duke Ellington"

Wednesday 6 December – 6.30 pm

Mario Corvini New Talents Jazz Orchestra
Duke Ellington was one of the most important figures in the history of music in the 20th century. A composer, orchestra conductor and pianist, Ellington helped in the early part of the century to shape 20th century jazz and culture as we know them today. The youth orchestra conducted by Mario Corvini pays tribute to an artiste whom it is difficult not to like.

"A Tribute to Louis Armstrong"

"A Tribute to Louis Armstrong"

Friday 22 December – 9.00 pm

Nicola Tariello Sextet
Louis Armstrong, "Satchmo", is one of the fathers of modern jazz. With his trumpet and band he made an indelible mark on the history of music between the 1920 and 1960s, lighting up the history of jazz from New Orleans to Harlem. Nicola Tariello helps us to relive the moments of the Hot Seven and the great Afro-American musician’s best-loved pieces of music.

“Anything but Love”

“Anything but Love”

Saturday 20 January – 9.00 pm

Maria Pia De Vito & Friends
The great songs of the early 20th century have become what we today know as "classics". Maria Pia de Vito and her group pay tribute to some of the era’s legendary composers such as Cole Porter and Irving Berlin, who wrote some of the finest pages in American songwriting history between the 1920s and the 1940s.

VOICE: Maria Pia De Vito

PIANO: Julian Oliver Mazzariello

CONTRABBASS: Enzo Pietropaoli

DRUMS: Alessandro Paternesi

"Gershwin Moods – The Two Faces of the American Genius"

"Gershwin Moods – The Two Faces of the American Genius"

Friday 16 February – 9.00 pm

Gershwin Quintet
Songs, jazz, classical music and musicals all merge into one in the hands of George Gershwin, one of the 20th century‘s greatest composers. Rhapsody in Blue, written in 1924, would suffice on its own to illustrate the greatness of this American composer and musician but the Gershwin Quintet, a highly original women’s group, goes the extra mile, illustrating both sides of this American musician’s genius: his classic side and his more popular side, fused together by his incredible creativity.

The entrance ticket to the two venues of the exhibition “Voglia d’Italia”, to the Palazzo Venezia Museum and to the Vittoriano panoramic lifts is also valid for the concerts, subject to availability.
Info +39 06 32810 (from Monday to Friday 9am – 6pm, Saturdays 9am – 1pm)

THE BEACON OF CULTURE – A glowing choreography between Palazzo Venezia and the Vittoriano

Since the days of the ancient Greeks, when Prometheus first gave the fire of the gods to man (whom the gods despised, considering him to be ephemeral), light has always symbolised culture. This is the light that is going to shine in Rome, a beacon against the darkness of the night sky over the Vittoriano and Palazzo Venezia, the two venues hosting the exhibition entitled “Yearning for Italy”.
This choreography of lights will build a poetic, abstract bridge between the two buildings. A spotlight in the centre of the Vittoriano, coming on at sunset, will represent the enlightenment of knowledge, the beacon of culture and the gleam of intelligence. The glowing choreography accompanying it will forge a dialogue between the two buildings, and in projecting its blade of light into the sky over Rome, it will summon the public to take part in the event and to contemplate the works housed in the two historic buildings.
When all is said and done, culture is the secret of “ephemeral” man’s immortality, it is the light that sets us on an equal footing with the gods, it is the sword blade that allows us to defeat the night.

Co-Directors: Àlex Ollé, Xavi Bové
Musical Composition: Zinkman
Creative Consultant: Jordi Pont


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