1891, una «lista di appunti» per Adolfo Venturi. Il catalogo delle opere private «di sommo pregio» nel carteggio tra Pasquale Villari ed Emilio Visconti Venosta
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The article describes an event which took place in November 1891. The protagonists were: Adolfo Venturi, a young government official at the Ministry of Education; Pasquale Villari, the Minister himself and Emilio Visconti Venosta, Minister of the Foreign Affairs. A very important and ambitious project was brought into discussion in Parliament: the drawing up of a list of the most valuable works of art still housed in private collections. The situation was chaotic. In the last years lots of objects of art, often very important ones, went out of Italy, most of them in an illegal way. At that moment there was not a general law about the exportation of works of art. There were only a few laws of the former states before the Unification, such, as the Papal State or the Republic of Venice. Actually there was a bill. But unfortunately still in discussion in Parliament. Adolfo Venturi immediately began to work at the list. But he needed help. So he got in touch with several scholars of history of art and colleagues of the Minister. He sent them a circular letter asking news about the private collections of the whole nation. In that letter he underlined that he had to list only the «cose di sommo pregio», especially those of the Renaissance period, namely the masterpieces. Conscious of the difficulty of the question, Minister Villari decided to contact Visconti Venosta, a member of Parliament, fine expert and collector himself of Renaissance «oeuvres d’art». The correspondence shows the kind of problems that the extension of the list creates. We must say that Visconti Venosta, who was helped in this complicated business by the famous art historian, Gustavo Frizzoni, worked hard also to present another important law relating to the gallerie fidecommissarie of Rome. Fortunately this law was approved, meanwhile the law of conservation (and about exportation) was approved some years later, in 1902.
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