The Pier Luigi Amata collection – an addendum to the Fine Arts Museum’s Italian Baroque exhibition
On 26 October 2013 the exhibition From Caravaggio to Canaletto opened in the Museum of Fine Arts as a continuation of the 2009-2010 From Botticelli to Titian display presenting, with 143 masterpieces, the schools, themes and genres of 17th and 18th century Italian painting. This article deals with two paintings of the Italian Baroque exhibition with a view to revealing their hidden secrets. One picture is Venus with Doves by Giovanni Antonio Galli (1585–1652), known as Lo Spadarino; the other is Portrait of a Young Man by Tanzio da Varallo (c 1580–1632/33), which doesn’t appear in the catalogue as a separate item due to its late addition to the exhibition. Both came from the Amata collection in Rome, whose foundation, history, collector and pictures I am presenting. The story of the current collection of Pier Luigi Amata, a plastic surgeon, begins in the 1990s, when he had already bought works which today form part of the collection. It took years for him to acquire the necessary knowledge, in order to combine his youthful passion for buying art with a refined taste. After his initial abortive efforts at purchasing, he realised that buying art is a much more complex matter than generally thought. Money alone is not enough, since much more is involved. Luck is important, as is an appropriately critical and experienced eye, so that when choosing works in the market the collector can assemble works which are closest to his own feelings, understanding and nature. However, ambitions are often greater than possibilities. The relation between art and beauty is not absolute, thus a visual memory of paintings is needed. Amata learned all this by visiting museums and libraries. As the noted Italian art historian Adolfo Venturi (1856–1941) said: “Vedere e rivedere” (To see and to see again).