Turin gets a private museum of decorative art

Pietro Accorsi's long wait to showcase his collection is over

The collection of a famous Turinese antique dealer, Pietro Accorsi (1891-1982), has gone on display after a seventeen-year delay. Accorsi’s will stipulated that a Foundation be set up with his considerable fortune to further the study of Piedmontese and European decorative arts. The headquarters of this foundation are in one of the city’s finest eighteenth-century streets, in a building where Accorsi’s parent were once janitors. Of critical importance to Accorsi’s career was his friendship with Crown Prince Umberto of Savoy, a passionate collector, who used the young man’s skills to help him enrich his collections. This opened the doors of the aristocracy of Piedmont to the young dealer. He discovered a talent for aiding the nobility, who at the time were often financially in dire straits, with the utmost discretion. During the 1930s and from the 1970s until his death he was the leading purveyor of eighteenth-century antiques to the moneyed classes of Turin and other Italian cities. Accorsi could not bear to part with some of the works of art that passed through his hands, and in 1975 these formed the basis of his foundation. After his death in 1982 differences of opinion, including opposing views on the location of the museum, and changes of personnel held up the development of the project year after year. Now, under the life presidency of Giulio Ometto, Accorsi’s companion in his old age, the museum is at last open. The twenty-seven rooms are arranged exactly as they were in the Villa Paola, Accorsi’s villa-museum on the slopes of Moncalieri.

Appeared in The Art Newspaper Archive, 99 January 2000