The Corsini Collection

I have your Sunday plans sorted…

If you’re anything like me, a trip to the art gallery is thoroughly overdue, and if you’re a ‘Perthian’ (also like me), now is the perfect time to mend such a cultural shortcoming.

The Corsini Collection is in town and hosted by our very own Western Australia Art Gallery. A private collection from one of the renowned historic Florentine families, it is the very first time it has left Italy and Perth is the only place to host it in Australia. With artistic masterpieces from Florence, it’s our very own piece of Europe right in the heart of a modern, youthful city.

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The Corsini Crest.

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The figure of Music by Martinelli – 1650.

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Bacchante – a feminine figure of Bacchus – by Dandini – 1650.

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A Window on Italy – The Corsini Collestion: Masterpieces from Florence gives visitors an insight into the private collection of the eminent Corsini family. The exhibition provides a window on the family’s support of artists, and their ongoing loyalty to the city of Florence, which has prevailed from the 13th century through to the devastation of WWII and the inescapable forces of nature during the great flood of 1966.”

“The paintings on display present an introduction to Italian art from the 15th through to the 20th centuries. Early Renaissance paintings highlight the importance of Christian subject matter, but also show how it sat comfortably alongside themes drawn from classical mythology. Portraits – of members of the Corsini family – as well as of cardinals, saints, and popes, together with allegorical images illustrate the growing importance of the individual as a subject for art through this time.”

“Usually housed in the magnificent Palazzo Corsini on the Lungarno Corsini in Florence, these works of art, furniture, costumes, kitchen equipment and a lavish dining room set for six, portray the life of this family at the palazzo and their patronage of the arts”

Hidden behind a fake wall, to be kept safe from the Nazis in World War II and surviving the great flood of Florence, it is quite something to think we have the honour to see it today and even a bigger honour for me to present you with a peek of the collection.

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^ Gunshot marks made by the Nazis. The painting has  been left purposely unrestored, as a relics and remembrance of the War.

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The Madonna and Child.

The beauty behind classical art is all the symbolism weaved so beautifully throughout each piece of artwork. Once you know it, you can really come to understand many paintings throughout classical Western art. Make sure then to have a free guided tour, when you start, so you can come to appreciate the details, history and artistic styling of many of the pieces.

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What is so special about this collection is that not only is the artwork beautiful, but it is housing some works by great names such as Tintoretto, Caravaggio, Pontormo and the ‘piece de resistance’…

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Botticelli’s The Madonna and Child with six angels – circa: 1500.

“Here the Madonna rests her cheek against her little son’s and her eyes are closed, as if she is holding back tears. Two angels hold aloft a pearl-inlaid crown studded with sprigs of lilies, which symbolise the Virgin’s ultimate place at her son’s side as Queen of Heaven. First, though, she must accept that when he is an adult, he will sacrifice his life to save humanity. Two angels on the right gaze sadly at the instruments of Christ’s future Passion, while those on the left look out inviting us to share their sorrow.”

Large, magnificent and utterly unique. I saw Botticelli’s work, The Birth of Venus, in the Uffizi Palace some years ago and it’s very special to see what I think is its religious counterpart.

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Portrait of Princess Elena Corsini – 1950. While this painting is subdued and smaller than many others in the collection, it is this brooding, elegant Italian woman who was responsible for saving the collection in 1944 from the Nazi forces. I was taken aback at how the artist, Annigoni, captured such a somber expression in a portrait, where usually an artist captures a sense of quiet strength and serenity in patrons.  It made me wonder what this woman had seen and dealt with in her life to immortalise such an expression in art.

While there is plenty more to see in the collection, once finished upstairs, descend into the depths of the old building to look at the beautiful collection of classic art in the gallery’s permanent collection.

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Rooms of pastel pink and yellow have walls scored with gorgeous gold framed paintings. Compared to upstairs with the Corsini Collection, down here is so quiet and relaxing. The place is almost entirely to yourself.


The place is filled with a mixture of international, Australian and local artists of a beautiful calibre.

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Dress – Review // Flats – Nine West // Handbag – Charlie and Keith

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Adam by Auguste Rodin

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The High Altar of Seville Cathedral by David Roberts.

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^ An older Sydney town – looks straight out of Charles Dickens, don’t you think?


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I totally loved this painting. As you walk towards it, it completely draws you into the emptiness of white cloud. Very cool!

Also, make sure to actually look at the interior of the building and notice the old workings of the court house that it was once used for. I love seeing old buildings being respected and used for other purposes, rather being knocked down and replaced.

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Finally, while you’re there, make sure to take note of the large works done by the Australian artist McCubbin, who was a prominent member of the Heidelberg School, which followed what is now called Australian Impressionism. It was a movement in art of the late 18th century to early 19th Century that captured the beauty of Australian landscapes, the light and bush of our unique country through a naturalistic and impressionistic style.

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So if you’re free this Sunday, make sure to pop into the gallery for an hour or two, soak up some culture and history, be transported back to the golden years of aristocratic Florence and get in touch with our own historical roots. Support the arts and galleries we need to outwardly show our governments our appreciation for such places being kept alive. Beautiful art is important to humanity, whether the world of science and the economy realise it, or not. A nurturing of talent and beauty is a nurturing of good spirit, don’t you think, and I’m sure we could all use more of that in our busy lives.

The Corsini Collection has been running since February and closes 18th June. You can buy tickets here The rest of the gallery is free, so no excuses there!

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And after, walk through Northbridge and find a good coffee shop, or a bite to eat. There’s plenty to choose from!

P.S. I just want to point out that I didn’t use a single pun in this entire post. You should all be proud!!


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