Palazzo Mosca - Musei Civici
History of the Musei Civici and Palazzo Mosca
Since 1936, Palazzo Mosca has been the seat of the local museum, the Musei Civici. The palazzo is now a property of the city of Pesaro, but it once housed one of the most prominent aristocratic families in the area. The Moscas were rich merchants from Bergamo and they moved to Pesaro around the mid 16th century. They were soon to become members of the local aristocracy, and their fast rise to economic power gave them the chance to build Villa Caprile, a mansion just outside the city centre, and Palazzo Mosca, the building that took their name, in the very heart of Pesaro.
The palazzo was built in the 17th century. In the following century, Marchese Francesco decided to renovate it, and he entrusted the task to architect Luigi Baldelli, who had probably been influenced by Lazzarini. In that period, Palazzo Mosca thrived like never before: thanks to the bonds that the family established with politicians and artists throughout the century, it became one of the favourite places for aristocrats and intellectuals to meet.
Among the guests of the Moscas were Vincenzo Monti (the great poet, playwright and translator) and Napoleon Bonaparte (at the time, Pesaro was under the rule of the Cisalpine Republic and Francesco Mosca was a member of the government).
The palazzo was the private residence of Marchesa Vittoria until 1844. Her sister Bianca, and Bianca’s husband Tommaso Chiaramonti, then took possession of the house. After several changes of ownership, Palazzo Mosca was eventually purchased by the city of Pesaro and was chosen as the seat of the Musei Civici (which had been previously located in Palazzo Ducale).
The distinctive feature of the current façade of Palazzo Mosca is the magnificent rusticated door, above which is the family coat of arms. The main door leads to the three large courtyards.
The Moscas and Marchesa Vittoria
The Moscas, despite being a family of merchants, showed a deep and genuine interest in art and culture. Carlo Mosca was actually one of the pivots on which the cultural life of 18th-century Pesaro turned, along with Annibale degli Abbati Olivieri, Gianbattista Passeri and Giannandrea Lazzarini.
Between the 18th and the 19th centuries, while the Ancien Régime was being overthrown by the French Revolution, it was Francesco Mosca who brought prestige to the family, thanks to his cultural and political commitment.
Marchesa Vittoria Mosca, a woman of great intelligence and of fine sensibility, left her mark on the cultural history of her city. At the age of 42, she married a younger nobleman, Vincenzo Maria Toschi, who was 29 years old, and who shared her love for art. A collector of fine taste, Vittoria gathered a great number of works, not only paintings, such as still lifes, but also precious crafts, such as pieces of furniture, ivories, glasses, ceramics and fabrics.
Vittoria, far from conceiving that rich and diverse collection for the Moscas' private enjoyment exclusively, planned to make it the core of a museum of industrial arts, which would have helped to educate those talented, but poor youngsters who, unlike their wealthier peers, had very little chance to visit the main museums in Europe.
It was for that purpose that in 1885 Vittoria donated both Palazzo Mazzolari, which she had purchased and renovated, and her family collection to the city of Pesaro. When Museo Mosca was inaugurated in 1888, housing precious works of decorative and industrial art, Vittoria’s ambitious and forward-thinking project seemed to have finally seen the light. However, the museum did not survive for long, and by 1911 no mention was made of it anymore.
The works donated by Vittoria, however, are currently an essential part of the collection housed by the Musei Civici.
The works of art are displayed in the five halls of the first floor of Palazzo Mosca. The first hall houses one of the masterpieces of the Italian Renaissance, the Coronation of the Virgin Altarpiece by Giovanni Bellini, the famous Venetian painter. The altarpiece, painted around 1475, was originally housed in the church of San Francesco, in Pesaro. It soon became very popular. However, its iconography conveys a mystical and allegorical message of difficult interpretation, which can be unraveled in the light of the Franciscan creed. The solemn style of the central section, which depicts the mystical event, is opposed to the livelier style of the predella, where the lives of the saints are narrated.
Besides its theological meaning, the altarpiece might have also been painted to celebrate the power of the Sforza family over Pesaro, and, in particular, the marriage between Giovanni Sforza and Camilla of Aragona in 1483. The first hall also houses several paintings from local churches and convents, which exemplify the artistic tradition of the area.
The second hall is the “chamber of wonders” of the museum. Here visitors can see ceramics, pieces of decorative art, pieces of furniture, sculptures, plus a se.lection of tin-glazed wares (maioliche) coming from the most important towns of the former Duchy of Urbino (Urbino, Urbania – formerly known as Casteldurante –, Pesaro, Gubbio) and lusterware from Deruta. The hall also displays pieces of decorative art from different ages, all donated by Marchesa Vittoria Toschi Mosca.
The other halls display their works in chronological order. In particular, it is worthwhile to mention three works: “Penitent Magdalene” and “Penitent Saint John”, both by Simone Cantarini, a painter from Pesaro, and “The Fall of Giants” by Guido Reni, which had been probably conceived for the ceiling of a private residence. The collection concludes with a series of still lifes, by Christian Berentz (whose style is exuberant and colourful), Antonio Gianlisi Junior (whose style experiments prospective illusionism) and others. They depict withered flowers, spoiled fruit, skulls and clepsydras, which all symbolize the frailty of life and the transience of beauty.
The Hercolani Rossini collection
The Hercolani Rossini collection includes 38 paintings and a piece of marble, all acquired in 1883 by the municipality of Pesaro, which inherited Gioachino Rossini’s possessions. These works had gone to Rossini shortly before his death (1868) from the Hercolani, an aristocratic family from Bologna to which Rossini had lent a sum of money.
The paintings were originally part of Prince Marcantonio Hercolani’s collection, who used to collect paintings from churches of Bologna, of the Romagna region and from antique dealers. There are works by artists from 14th- and 15th-century Emilia, from the Venetian school and from the Sienese mannerism. It is worthwhile to mention the precious “St. Ambrose” on wood by Vitale da Bologna, a rare canvas with the “Coronation of the Virgin” by Simone dei Crocifissi and paintings by Michele di Matteo and by Giovanni Francesco da Rimini (15th century). Another example is the majestic state portrait of the Venetian Procurator Michele Priuli, by Domenico Tintoretto.
The collection also includes many works which are representative of 17th-century Bologna, such as “The Fall of Giants” by Guido Reni and works by Francesco Albani, Vincenzo Spisanelli, Giovan Francesco Gessi, Elisabetta Sirani and Carlo Cignani. It also includes painters from the 18th century, such as Giuseppe Maria Crespi and Aureliano Milani (with a beautiful market scene).
Hercolani Rossini collection – Photo gallery
The Vinciguerra collection
This rich and recent (2013) donation includes 180 pieces, all collected by Professor Adalberto Vinciguerra and his wife over their lifetime. Professor Vinciguerra and his wife were both keen art collectors with a passion for rare glassware and a particular interest in contemporary Italian art.
The highlight of the collection is a precious china vase by Gio Ponti, «La passeggiata archeologica». This is a white urn with golden, crimson and gray decorations. It was produced in 1925 by Richard Ginori’s porcelain factory at Doccia, and there are few copies and models of it. It was donated to Professor Vinciguerra’s father, major Giuseppe Vinciguerra – who was at the time the captain of Pisa airport – by his officers in 1938.
The donation includes a rich collection of rare pieces of glassware, many of which date from the 20’s and the 30’s, as well as paintings by well-known artists and furnishings. Of particular interest are two extremely rare pieces of glassware by Vittorio Zecchin, which were made between 1921 and 1922, when Venini and Cappellin founded their furnace. They were exhibited at the Biennale in Venice and in Monza, and they marked a revolution in design. Other rarities included in the
collection are the vases by Napoleone Martinuzzi, who was a sculptor for the Vittoriale degli Italiani (the villa where Gabriele D’Annunzio lived), and a plate by Carlo Scarpa. They would both be difficult to reproduce today because of their unique colours.
Of particular interest are also the following: an oil painting from the 30’s by Ivo Pannaggi, which is an example of the second wave of Futurism; an oil painting by Pietro Frajacomo; a gouache from the 30’s by Enrico Prampolini, which is an example of Abstractionism; three small oil paintings by Silvestro Lega, Giacomo Favretto and Niccolò Canicci respectively.
Vinciguerra collection - Photo gallery
The Perlini-Gabucci Collectio
In Palazzo Mosca it is possible to appreciate the Perlini Jewels thanks to two generous donations that continue the long-standing tradition of private donations to the city of Pesaro.
The first donation by Adriano Perlini dates back to 2012. The Pesaro born goldsmith, who had participated in a large number of competitions and exhibitions in Italy and abroad, donated a total of 5 pieces. These are a necklace, two brooches and two rings created by him in the Seventies, and are precious pieces characterised by interchangeable modules that create a sense of movement.
In April 2016 the artist’s wife donated 5 more pieces of jewellery created by local goldsmiths Claudio Mariani, Alberto Giorgi and Carlo Bruscia in the Seventies.
The Perlini – Gabucci donation is now reunited and the 10 pieces can be admired in the Museum’s mezzanine. They are accompanied by a panel containing all the relevant information plus a tablet on which you can view a visual representation of the various forms these jewels can take.