Masterclass in Palermo | European Collectors as Patrons

Posted in on site, opportunities by Editor on March 27, 2023

Photograph of the Palazzo Butera with a view of the sea to the right.

The oldest portions of the Palazzo Butera date to the early eighteenth century, when the Duke of Branciforti constructed a grand house according to designs produced by the Palermo architect Giacomo Amato. In 1759, fire destroyed a portion of the palazzo. Prince Butera responded by acquiring the adjacent property and rebuilding, doubling the size of the Palazzo Butera. More information is available here»

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From ArtHist.net and the Palazzo Butera:

Masterclass in Palermo: European Collectors as Patrons
Palazzo Butera, Palermo, 28–30 June 2023

Applications due by 30 April 2023

European Collectors as Patrons is a three-day masterclass based in Palermo, Sicily focused on how patronage supports and defends artistic and cultural activity. Bertrand du Vignaud and Claudio Gulli will outline how over the last three centuries a range of historical and current European patrons have advocated for art and culture by building their own private collections. These individuals have contributed both to social progress and urban development. Examples will include the Roman Cardinals Alessandro Albani and Pietro Ottoboni, along with the English amateur-architects Lord Burlington and Sir John Soane, and the Spanish Count Alexandre Aguado. From more recent history, we will consider Harry Kessler, Vittorio Cini, and Calouste Gulbenkian. Professors Andrea Rurale and Piergiacomo Mion, of the SDA Bocconi School of Management, will discuss the economic longevity and long-term impact of these enterprises.

During these three days, lectures will take place at Palazzo Butera, and visits across the city will include both well-known and lesser known places. In the evenings, private dinners have been arranged in historic houses and other places of significant cultural importance. The dinners are designed as an integral part of the masterclass allowing for a greater depth of understanding. They also offer time for discussion and reflection on the days’ experiences and learning.

The use of Palazzo Butera as host to this masterclass is intentional as it represents a fine example of the sort of enlightened patronage being discussed. This eighteenth-century seafront palace, once the home of the Branciforti family, was purchased by Francesca and Massimo Valsecchi in 2016. The new owners privately undertook a complete restoration of the building and have transferred their art collection to the palazzo. Since the 1960s the Valsecchi’s collecting has been guided by a fascination in cultural exchanges and the cross-pollination of ideas. Assembled quietly over decades of intense research, the collection opened to the public in the spring of 2021. The main works in the collection arrived in Palermo after long-term loans to the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge and the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford (2016–2020).

Classes will be held in English. The course fee, excluding dinners, is €350; including dinners, the cost is €700. It is possible to receive a grant to cover €350 (applicants will be selected by Bertrand du Vignaud and Claudio Gulli). Lunch is included in the price, except on June 29, when lunch will take place at Villa Tasca. Registration is open to anybody, there is no age limit, and an educational qualification is not a requirement. To register, please send an email to info@palazzobutera.it. For those applying for a grant, please include your CV and a personal statement. We also advise staying in Palermo, if possible, some days prior to or after the course, so as to visit the city’s main points of interest.

W E D N E S D A Y ,  2 8  J U N E  2 0 2 3

10.00  Visit to the Francesca and Massimo Valsecchi Collection

12.00  Meet with Francesca and Massimo Valsecchi

15.00  Lecture by Bertrand du Vignaud and Claudio Gulli — European Collectors as Patrons, Part 1

18.30  Visit to the Chiaramonte Bordonaro Collection

Dinner at Villa Chiaramonte Bordonaro (optional)

T H U R S D A Y ,  2 9  J U N E  2 0 2 3

10.00  Visit to Villa Tasca

15.00  Lecture by Bertrand du Vignaud and Claudio Gulli — European Collectors as Patrons, Part 2

19.00  Visit to Palazzo Mazzarino

Dinner at Palazzo Mazzarino (optional)

F R I D A Y ,  3 0  J U N E  2 0 2 3

10.00  Lecture by Bertrand du Vignaud — Heritage at Risk

11.00  Lecture by Andrea Rurale — Art Orientation vs Market Orientation

12.00  Lecture by Piergiacomo Mion — A New Model for Cultural Business: Key Issues Faced by Art Managers

15.00  The Financing of Restorations, Museums, and Heritage. Attended by Bertrand du Vignaud, Claudio Gulli, Andrea Rurale, and Piergiacomo Mion (open to the public)

16.15  Walking Tour of Palermo’s Historical Center: Restored Churches and Churches To Be Restored, curated by Claudio Gulli

17.30  Gallery of Francesco Pantaleone

18.15  Meeting with Alexandre Giquello and Cocktails


Villa Chiaramonte Bordonaro alle Croci

In 1892, Ernesto Basile designs an extension for Gabriele Chiarmonte Bordonaro’s (1835–1914) villa to house his art collection. Assembled at the end of the 19th century, it included works by Giotto, Botticelli, and Van Dyck. Today you can still see many of these works here, even though the collection was divided in three parts in 1950.

Villa Tasca

The origins of Villa Tasca date from the 16th century, though it was restored with its current decorations beginning in 1855. It has since been called the ‘Villa Borghese of Palermo’ because of the eight hectares of surrounding park, preserved to this day. It includes a swan lake and a temple to Ceres. Richard Wagner was a long-time guest of the villa and during his stay in Palermo wrote much of Parsifal. The park opened to the public in 2020. The visit will be guided by Giuseppe Tasca owner and CEO of Villa Tasca.

Palazzo Mazzarino

Within walking distance of Teatro Massimo, Palazzo Mazzarino, belongs to Marquis Berlingieri. Historically it has been one of the city’s most important palazzi, because of its links to the Lanza family. In the Minerva Hall, where a sculpture of Valerio Villareale towers, you will also find butterfly paintings by Damien Hirst. The palazzo is a showcase for this type of cross-pollination between new and old. The visit will be guided by Marialda Berlingeri.


Contemporary art gallery founded in Palermo by Francesco Pantaleone in 2003, located at the Quattro Canti.

House of Alexandre Giquello

Alexandre Giquello is co-owner of the Parisian auction house Binoche-Giquello and president of Drouot. He owns an apartment in Palermo at the Quattro Canti.


Art historian Bertrand du Vignaud has been Chairman of Christie’s Monaco and Vice-Président of Christie’s France. Passionate about the safeguarding the world cultural heritage, he has been President of the World Monuments Fund organisations for Europe, France, and Italy. Currently, he advises the Fondation Evergète in Geneva and is the scientific advisor of Dassault Histoire et Patrimoine in France and is the President of the Comité International des Amis de la Bibliothèque Vaticane in Rome. For more than 40 years, he has launched numerous projects to save and restore masterpieces of cultural heritage in danger or in urgent need of work around the world: from baroque churches in Peru, Brazil, and Austria, to the Queens’ Theatre at Trianon, from the Carracci Gallery in Rome to the Palace of Dario in Persepolis; the most original and iconic of these was the reinstallation of the spectacular decors of an 18th-century mansion, the Hôtel de Voyer d’Argenson, or Chancellerie d’Orléans, in Paris. He is also a great nephew of the painter Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, and through his writing and lectures, works to make the little-know aspects of this artist’s life better known to the public. His last book, Les Thellusson. was published in French and English by In Fine in 2021 and is dedicated to an important European family of collectors and art patrons.

Claudio Gulli was born in Palermo in 1987. He read History of Art at the Università degli Studi di Siena and gained his PhD at the Scuola Normale Superiore in Pisa, with a thesis on the late-nineteenth century Chiaramonte Bordonaro collection (published by Officina Libraria in 2021). Between 2009 and 2011, he worked in the Paintings Department of the Louvre Museum in Paris, where his contributions to the research on Leonardo da Vinci focused on the literary popularity of the master’s Saint John the Baptist (2009) and Saint Anne (2011). He is involved in the project of Palazzo Butera in Palermo, where he is now director, since the acquisition of the building by Francesca and Massimo Valsecchi

Andrea Rurale is a Lecturer at the Department of Marketing at Università Bocconi. At SDA Bocconi, he is the Director of the Master in Arts Management and Administration (MAMA). He has conducted research and education projects with major enterprises. His research activities focus on cultural marketing, consumer behaviour, experiential marketing, CRM, and marketing communication. He is the author of books and articles on his topics of interest. His works have been published in Psychology and Marketing. He has been a Visiting Professor in many international universities, including Simon Fraser in Vancouver (Canada), Tinsgua University in Beijing (China), SMU in Dallas (USA), UTS in Sydney (Australia), and Universidad de Aguascalientes (Mexico). He is President of the Istituto musicale superiore Monteverdi Conservatory in Cremona. Andrea earned a degree from Università Bocconi and a PhD in Marketing from Universitat de València. He is President of the Lombardy Delegation of FAI – Fondo Ambiente Italiano.

Piergiacomo Mion Dalle Carbonare is SDA Junior Lecturer of the Government, Health and Non-Profit Division and Coordinator of the Master in Arts Management and Administration (MAMA) at SDA Bocconi School of Management. He is Deputy Director of the Master of Science in Economics and Management for Arts, Culture, Media, and Entertainment (ACME) at Bocconi University where he also teaches courses related to Cultural Policies, Public Management, and Territorial Marketing. He holds a PhD in Marketing from the University of Valencia. He has been visiting scholar at SMU Dallas. Piergiacomo is also Head of the Milan Delegation of FAI – Fondo Ambiente Italiano.

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