ACQUIRED AND DISPERSED: THE COLLECTIONS OF GRAZIOSO ENEA LANFRANCONI AND BARON KARL KUFFNER
The article focuses on peripethies of the art collections, built up by two significant art collectors, active in the territory of present day Slovakia in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Both, Grazioso Enea Lanfranconi (1850 -1895), coming from a Lombard patrician family and working as one of the leading specialists of his time in the area of waterworks, and Baron Karl Kuffner (1847-1924), representative of the Austro-Hungarian Jewish elite, successfully involved in the sugar industry, based their picture galleries on the collections of Italian and especially Dutch and Flemish paintings. Why did both collectors focus on collecting the art works not at first sight linked up to the region in which they lived and worked? The authoress sees the answer in the exemplary role of the imperial picture gallery in the Belvedere at Vienna, arranged by Christian von Mechel for the Emperor Joseph II in 1781. The gallery was dominated by the works of Italian, Flemish, Dutch and German masters, that is by the works of the painters, active in the territories historically belonging to the Habsburg crown and forming part of the artistic traditions of this multi-ethnic and multi-cultural Empire. The death of Lanfranconi and Kuffner meant the break up of their art collections, but the mere fact of their existence, although only briefly, throws new light on the little researched society of the private art collectors of the late 19th and early 20th centuries in what is now Slovakia. On the one hand, the now dispersed collections point to the multi-cultural and multi-ethnic character of this society. On the other hand, however, they reveal the discontinuity of the long-term tradition of art collecting in this region.
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