Three years after its opening, Palazzo Maffei in Verona, one of the most beautiful house museums in the world, is renewed with important new acquisitions, from Hokusai's The Great Wave to a rare male portrait by Modigliani, and with a busy program of events.
It was 2020, when the entrepreneur Luigi Carlon, now president of the Carlon Palazzo Maffei Foundation, fulfilled his dream of opening the “house” he chose and restored to share his private collection of works of art with the entire world, to date over 600 pieces, which he has collected since the 1960s (click here to read the history of the Museum).
A research that starts from the futurist and surrealist passion of its founder, it is no coincidence that in Palazzo Maffei there are absolute masterpieces, among others by di Balla, Boccioni, Magritte, Ernst, and De Chirico, and then ranges through 2000 years of history with a common thread that favors the avant-gardes of every era and the artists of “his” Verona.
Our mission, born from a family passion, is the dissemination of art and beauty in all its forms, which is why we continue to acquire new works to share with our visitors.
(Vanessa Carlon, Director of Palazzo Maffei)
Since then, his daughter Vanessa Carlon, director of the Museum, and her team of curators have never stopped, chasing and frequenting auctions, galleries and collectors to find other gems to add to their treasure chest. From autumn 2023 it will, in fact, be possible to visit the many new works that have been added to what is the most important private operation of art restitution to the public in recent years in Italy.
Starting from the entrance of the Museum overlooking Piazza delle Erbe, we encounter the first novelty: it is The Bather by Alessandro Puttinati from Verona, a pupil of Berthel Thorwaldsen, a sculpture from 1846 in incredibly pure Carrara marble which symbolizes a leap in the dark towards freedom, from the neoclassical canons and the Austrian rule at the time.
Proceeding into the first rooms of the exhibition dedicated to ancient art, two other new entries are on display: a precious doge’s throne, a rare example of Venetian carving and decoration from the end of the 16th century, and the Madonna and Child by Antonio Giolfino, a protagonist of Renaissance wooden sculpture. A work in carved, painted, gilded and punched wood dating back to the second half of the 15th century, truly extraordinary in terms of features and state of conservation.
In the second part of the Museum, dedicated to the twentieth-century and contemporary art, we find the major innovations. Starting from an absolute masterpiece of the Japanese style of ukiyo-e woodcuts: The Great Wave by Katsushika Hokusai from 1831 which, as the British Museum declared, is “the most famous image in the world”, of which there are very few examples originals.
In the following rooms, we encounter another, curious, masterpiece. It is the portrait of Monsieur Chéron by Amedeo Modigliani from 1915, who seems to have been his first dealer, so rare and precious in the artist’s mostly feminine universe.
In the wonderful rooms dedicated to futurism and metaphysics, other important acquisitions: some works by the surrealist Man Ray, including the Cadeau sculpture, an iron made unusable by 14 nails glued to the base, Perpetual Motif, the wooden metronome with an eye, and a portrait of Giorgio de Chirico.
An absolute novelty is the room dedicated to Design, another category of art that enters the Maffei museum with some world icons such as the Pipistrello lamp by Gae Aulenti and the seats by the Eames couple.
We then pass through the rooms on the second floor of the building, including the one in which Canova‘s Cupid stands out against Chiara Dynis‘ work Over Nature with a quote from Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, guest in Verona for the Grand Tour in 1786, and the one in which a bust of Marcus Aurelius dialogues with the Gladiators in the room by De Chirico.
rom here, you reach the Intermezzo d’Autore room enriched by a very rare lacquered wood music table with Spinetta Ottaviani, still functioning, which dialogues with pop art icons such as Hope by Robert Indiana and the Proust armchair by Alessandro Mendini.
How to “enter” the extraordinary stories that lie behind each masterpiece of Palazzo Maffei?
The Museum has launched a new program of free initiatives, Art in Action #2023, which can be consulted here.
The program includes many events including thematic guided tours, initiatives dedicated to children, such as the fun Treasure Hunt, and the highly anticipated meetings with the artists in the Teatrino, the museum’s conference room, which also gives access to the wonderful panoramic terrace (that can also be visited separately from the museum).
But the most exciting encounters are those for new parents who can experience the museum with their little ones from 0 to 12 months to encourage the development of cultural involvement already in the early stages of the child’s life.
An example of the healing power of art and beauty lays in Vanessa Carlon’s happy sparkle in her eyes when she tells how her father, through playing, brought her closer to art from the first months of her life.
The future has an ancient heart.
The oldest part of the Palace was built in the late Middle Ages in the area of the Capitolium when Verona became a Roman municipality (49 BC). In fact, from the panoramic terrace you can clearly see how it is built right above the ancient decumanus, a straight line that goes from Corso S. Anastasia to Corso Porta Borsari.