A publication about the diplomatic, artistic and architectural history of the Italian Embassy in London
A new book, ‘The Italian Embassy in London’ (‘L’Ambasciata d’Italia a Londra’), published by the Umberto Allemandi publishing house in collaboration with Sotheby’s, was launched this evening. It explores the recent history of the diplomatic mission, starting from when it took up residence in its current seat at 4 Grosvenor Square.
The volume, published both in Italian and English, includes sections dedicated to the art, history, architecture and its bilateral relations from 1932 to the present day.
Ambassador Pasquale Terracciano, who launched the project with his wife, Karen Lawrence Terracciano, reminded his guests of what inspired the new volume; the opportunity to reconstruct, in collaboration with experts, the historical and cultural legacy of the Embassy, in terms of its diplomatic and architectural history and of the artistic heritage preserved there since the first half of the twentieth century. In his opening speech, the Ambassador also offered some historical background, elaborated on in the preface by Sergio Romano.
Ambassador Terracciano emphasised the importance of valorising the collection, for “it speaks of our roots, but also confers prestige on the present and helps extend Italian soft power in the UK, which is no small advantage in the current historical conjuncture”.
Terracciano added that, a concrete example of the impact of soft power was the return of ‘The Birth of Venus’ painted by Botticelli, to the UK for the first time in more than 7 decades; which was once part of the Embassy’s collection (1934-1940).
The Ambassador’s speech was followed by that of Dr. Umberto Allemandi, president of Allemandi & Co, who recalled the outstanding moments of the project and the collaboration with the Embassy and the Sotheby’s experts.
Green Network Energy and Intesa Sanpaolo’s fundamental contributions made the volume possible, which is rich in textual and photographic content, and notable for its detailed analysis of the art collection. The fruit of painstaking and rigorous historical and artistic research, curated by numerous Sotheby’s experts, and led by Mario Tavella, Europe Chairman of the celebrated auction house and Maria Sancho-Arroyo Puliti, Director at Sotheby’s.
Michael Hall, the noted architectural historian, focused on the architectural history of the building in relation to the district of Mayfair. While the photographs, in particular the rooms, are by the famous photographer Massimo Listri; who has already collaborated on photographic books about the art and architecture of Italian government buildings.
Dr. Tavella concluded the book presentation by analysing a selection of the most important works in the Embassy’s collection. He provided details about the research entailed and about a number of original discoveries which emerged incidentally from consulting documents, held in the Historical and Diplomatic Archives of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
To celebrate the event, a limited number of copies were on sale, with all proceeds going to the Scuola Italiana a Londra (a bilingual school and nursery in London).