La vita movimentata di un grande soprintendente di Brera
edited by Marco Carminati (councillor of the Amici di Brera)
with an introductory essay by James Bradburne
Le Memorie di Ettore Modigliani (1873-1947), hitherto unpublished, provide an exceptional account of a truly “lively life”, intense and at times authentically adventurous, entirely spent in the service of the Italian artistic heritage.
The director of the Pinacoteca di Brera from 1908 to 1935, superintendent of Lombardy from 1910 to 1935 and organiser of the most important exhibition on ancient Italian art (London 1930), Modigliani had the privilege of experiencing exciting professional moments, such as the exhibition of Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa in Brera (1913), the recovery of works of art smuggled between Austria and Italy (1920), the major reorganisation of the Pinacoteca Braidense (1925) and the foundation of the Association of Amici di Brera (1926).
Modigliani was forced, however, to suffer bitter humiliations, such as his ousting from Brera in 1935, his transfer to L’Aquila and expulsion from the public administration under the race laws of 1938, which compelled him in 1943 to hide in the mountains of the Marche. Modigliani returned to Brera as inspector in 1945. A brilliant and engaging writer, the director used the last years of his life to write this book, which ends on 11 February 1946 (the day he was reinstated as superintendent of Brera).
Modigliani died in 1947.
Fernanda Wittgens, his closest and most faithful collaborator, fulfilled her mentor’s dream: in 1950 Brera would reopen, more beautiful and more vital than before.
With the new publication published by Skira “Una Meraviglia chiamata Brera”, the association seeks to renew the pride of the Milanese in having one of the world’s most important art galleries in their city and celebrate the ninety years since the establishment of the Amici di Brera. On this occasion some great friends (historians, architects and journalists …) have retraced glorious and tragic moments that have marked the history of our great Brera.
An updated insert on the initiatives of the Association to be published monthly with the Giornale dell’Arte, ed. Allemandi, edited by Leonardo Piccinini. The publication has been made possible by Smeg’s generous contribution.
I Quaderni di Brera are the result of the work of the Amici di Brera Association and of the Milanese Museums to honour collectors and private donors who, over more than a century, have sought to express by their gifts their attachment to the Pinacoteca di Brera and their affection for one of the most important museum institutions in Milan.
The Amici di Brera do not limit themselves to commissioning publications about works of art but also the works themselves. In 1975, Sambonet, together with the secretary of the Associazione Stella Malaton and the councillor Paolo Franci, launched a very original initiative. The association and the Pinacoteca commissioned some of the most important artists of the moment, Henry Moore, Renato Guttuso, Fausto Melotti, Folon, Valerio Adami, Moebius, Graham Sutherland, Milton Glaser and Roberto Sambonet himself, to create a work directly inspired by one of Brera’s masterpieces. These were then reproduced in the form of posters of “works after the masters” that still decorate the premises of the Amici di Brera.
Supporting one of the most famous and illustrious symbols of Milan, the Pinacoteca di Brera, is an act of generosity that enables the community to strengthen and enhance its identity, actively contributing to activities that protect and foster our extraordinary cultural heritage.
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