International Antiques Fair celebrates 50 years

FLORENCE, Italy—The Florence International Antiques Fair has reached its 50th year, a tangible sign of a format that has triumphed over time, in a winning combination of the quality of the works, the excellence of the provenance and the prestige and elegance of the layout and decor.

It was 1959 when a genial insight on the part of Mario and Giuseppe Bellini brought to birth the most important antiques event in Italy and one of the most significant in the world.

From 1997, having left the 15th-century premises of Palazzo Strozzi, the Fair has been a denizen of the Palazzo Corsini sull’Arno, home of the most important private collection in Florence, begun by the nephew of Pope Clement XII, Don Lorenzo Corsini, in 1765 and comprising Italian and foreign 17th-century works, as well as a precious collection of paintings of the Florentine school ranging from the 15th to the 19th centuries.

Adhering to the time-honored criteria of decoration and symmetry governing the ancient private picture galleries, Pier Luigi Pizzi, the director, scenic designer and costume creator, has since 2001 been staging a classic and elegant decor that perfectly meets and enhances the demands of the exhibitors.

Faithful to the principle whereby the antiquarian is an intermediary between the uniqueness of the work and the emotional and intellectual delight of the collector, the Florence International Antiques Fair of Palazzo Corsini in Florence, having weathered so many different seasons of taste, fashion and trends, is an unrivalled example of balance and far-sightedness at both Italian and international levels. A rigorous and selective choice that has made it a benchmark event in the market, a showcase that is ‘open’ to the manifold aspects of the work of art: exquisite or curious, precious or intriguing as it may be.

For this 36th edition too (Sep. 26-Oct. 4, 2009) the participation of the antique dealers at the Biennale will be consistent with the renown that has always distinguished it: 90 of the most prestigious galleries in existence (72 Italian and 18 foreign).

The Scientific Committee will be chaired by the Superintendent of the Florentine Polo Museale (, underscoring the fruitful relations that exist between the institutions and the antiques world; its task will be to check the authenticity of the works on display, their conservation and correct attribution.

The antiquarians of Palazzo Corsini ( will have the chance of having an advance opinion on the exportability of the articles exhibited. Two committees, the first appointed by the Florence Exports Office, and the second sent by the Ministry for the Cultural Heritage, will examine the works submitted and, on the same day, will provide a definitive opinion on the exportability. This is a modus operandi unique to the Florence Biennale, which has been consolidated and refined over the years and further underscores the international dimension of the event.

Finally the police of the Carabinieri in charge of the Artistic Heritage will guarantee the correct titles of provenance.

As collaterals to the event, many of the initiatives of previous years are repeated.

Once again there will be the Lorenzo d’oro price for the film short on a historic-artistic subject, and on Oct. 1 next the prize will be awarded by the Organising Committee chaired by Claudio Strinati to Folco Quilici, for his cinema and documentary oeuvre as a whole.
The tradition of devolving part of the proceeds from the entry ticket for the inaugural evening for the restoration of a work of art of public property will be continued this year too, as will the charity initiative in favor of the ‘Corri la vita’ association, devoted to the study and prevention of breast cancer.

The star of the precious collateral show of this 36th Biennale will be coral in its various artistic interpretations. Three works originating from the Galleria Estense of Modena (a crib and two galleons) will be on display along with two from the Bargello National Museum of Florence (a pair of hunting trophies donated by the late antiquarian and collector Giovanni Bruzzichelli, who died in 1993, after whom the illustrious Florentine museum has named one of its rooms).