This paper discusses a perfect example of recontextualization and transformation: the collection of the Spanish painter Ignacio León y Escosura (1834-1901). The artist had, in fact, started collecting objects not only out of love for certain specimens but also out of the need to have a repertoire of 16th and 17th century artefacts for his historical paintings. This is why only a selection of the collection was kept at his home in Le Pecq (France), while the objects needed for his work as a painter stayed in his Parisian studio, described as ‘le plus beau de Paris’ for its elegance and richness (L’art moderne, 1875).
The collection’s fortune underwent an abrupt change with the artist’s sudden death in 1901. From this point on, the collection was dismembered, sold and moved to different locations. His widow, Augustine Marcy Escosura (1856-1918), decided to use part of the collection as a source of income by selling some of the objects in her antique shop, the Maison Marcy. The employees at the Maison included Luigi Parmeggiani (1860-1945), from Reggio Emilia (Italy), who finally inherited the collection after the death of Mme. Escosura and later transferred it to his home town. In Reggio Emilia he created a house museum, the Galleria Parmeggiani, and made it appear, for a long time, as though he were the original owner of the collection. This paper retells the long and troubled history of León y Escosura’s collection and studies the way in which objects gained a new identity in the Galleria Parmeggiani.
Emma Puliti received her MA in Arts, Museology, and Curatorship from the University of Bologna and her BA in History of Art from the University of Siena. Her research interests focus on the history of XIX century European Collections. She is currently a Cultrice della materiafor the course of Museologia e Storia del Collezionismo and Collections, musées et public at the University of Bologna. Furthermore,she works full time as an archivist for a private collection in Florence.
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