The Exhibition of the Books Sponsored by the Casse di Rispa

Written by  Gianni Venturi
Letting the books talk: this is the goal of the exhibition held at Casa Cini.
The scholar or the bibliophile who has the good fortune to consult the publishing catalogues of books sponsored by the Casse di Risparmio and the Banche del Monte gets the feeling that he is exploring a submerged universe of knowledge, an enormous mass of publications that have contributed over the years to the foundation of the history of Italian art - and other things besides.
Furthermore, the fact that books of importance to Italian culture must for the greater part remain inaccessible to scholars is a singularly Italian phenomenon that has become the subject of much heated debate.

It does not seem out of place, within the scope of the exhibition of the absorbing story of art collecting in Ferrara, that it has been decided to emphasize this fundamentally important activity carried out by the Casse di Risparmio and the Banche del Monte, not only by exhibiting all the books that the Cassa di Risparmio di Ferrara and its Foundation have sponsored over the years, but also those volumes from the vast collection of books amassed by the Italian Savings Banks concerning the history of collecting and museums, with a view to underlining the close links between the two.

If one thinks of the case of Ferrara, the concordance is supremely apt: not only are the collections owned by the Cassa di Risparmio housed inside the Pinacoteca Nazionale, but the same bank can also justly point to the various productions it has published, including the impeccable general catalogue of the Pinacoteca.
But, over and beyond specific cases, the exhibition has to ensure that the books are visible. This only apparently paradoxical statement arises from the objective difficulty of mounting an exhibition of and about books; books, that is, that are exhibited without the possibility of their being touched, leafed through, or used.

For this reason it was thought to reconstruct a milieu suitable for reading in the salons of Casa Cini; a refined ambience enhanced by the furnishings and paintings of the collections belonging to the Cassa di Risparmio. The result will be a reconstructed environment with enormous visual impact, a worthy backcloth for the celebrated and rare series on the Ferrarese painters of the Renaissance, which includes seminal texts such as Arcangeli's Bastianino, or the other series on Ferrarese painting over the centuries. And, alongside the glories of the highest quality publishing, there will be recent editions such as the irreplaceable Artisti a Ferrara in età umanistica e rinascimentale by Adriano Franceschini, an heroic collector of the historical records, and the series that will include the integral corpus of the illuminator's art in the Este period.

The room will be decorated with specimens of the illustrations of the facsimile of Borso d'Este's Bibbia, the colossal enterprise undertaken by publishers Panini under the aegis of the Fondazione.
If the goal that we set ourselves - to let the books talk - is achieved, then we shall be able to say that yet again the immense mass of learning that the collective imagination has attributed to the book will not fall short of expectations, nor will it be replaced by more recent means of communicating knowledge.