Il Monte di Pietà e la Sacrati Strozzi

Written by  Gianni Venturi
The important story of an historic institution
This volume, Etica, banca, territorio: il Monte di Pietà di Ferrara, explores the fascinating themes of the history, development and aims of Ferrara's Monte di Pietà, a charitable low-interest lending bank. Founded during the Renaissance, the organisation became a part of the newly established Cassa di Risparmio (savings bank) in 1838. Alfredo Santini's clear historical analysis traces the crucial stages in the institution's history. He outlines the part it has played in the development of Ferrara's economy from the period of the despotic rule of the Este family to the incorporation into the Papal States, through to the establishment of the new state of Italy and the many tribulations of the twentieth century. This narrative provides a context for the present-day Cassa di Risparmio, which is a model example of careful investment and extensive charitable commitments within the city, the province and elsewhere.
The Monte di Pietà was originally established in order to provide financial help to the needy, in accordance with strictly defined theological principles. Inevitably, however, these lofty ideals were often undermined by the political realities of the historical situation. Andrea Nascimbeni paints an illuminating picture of the relationship between the Monte di Pietà and the Jewish community in Ferrara with reference to the Jewish banking tradition. Carlo Bassi, in a fascinating study, reveals the role of the architects known as the Santini 'masters' in the eighteenth Risparmio che può essere presa a century transformation of the Monte di Pietà and its buildings. This architectural masterpiece has recently been returned to its original splendours by the restoration undertaken by the Foundation and by the Cassa di Risparmio di Ferrara. Gianni Venturi's essay explores the artistic, literary, theatrical, musical and cultural life in seventeenth century Ferrara, during the city's early years as a part of the Papal States. The volume concludes with Andrea Emiliani's study on the Monte di Pietà's art treasures, which today form part of our city's significant museum collections.

Collezione sacrati Strozzi. I dipinti estituiti a Ferrara.
A catalogue of the paintings brought back in Ferrara, with important critical essays.

The Strozzi Sacrati collection of paintings has its 'official' origin in 1850, when the Marquis Massimiliano Strozzi, of the Mantuan branch of the family, collected some 400 pictures in the Piazza San Domenico palazzo in Ferrara. His last descendent, the Marquis Uberto, died in 1982 leaving no direct or testamentary heirs, launching a long court case over the fate of his entire estate. Many of these works were sold by the heirs at different times to different buyers.
But some 60 paintings in the collection found their way back to their city of origin, Ferrara, at various times and by various procedures. These include major works, among the most representative of the original collection, like the two Muses from Borso d'Este's cabinet at Belfiore and the four panels which were originally part of an El Greco tryptich.
Some of these works were offered to the State in payment of inheritance tax under Law 512 of 1982, and some were sold as a lot to a single purchaser, the Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Ferrara.
The paintings acquired under Law 512 were assigned by the State to the Pinacoteca Nazionale in Ferrara; they are now housed in the gallery alongside the works bought by the Fondazione, which has entrusted them to the Pinacoteca on condition that they be kept on public display, responding to the public desire to see at least a part of its scattered artistic and historic patrimony returned to Ferrara.
The works 'restored' to Ferrara are listed in the Sacrati Strozzi Collection catalogue:
I dipinti restituiti a Ferrara, by Giuliana Marcolini (Milan, Motta, 2006).
The works from both groups are listed and illustrated following the chronology provided by the most reliable attribution, only one of the paintings is signed, among the many which each painting has been given over time. Starting with the often unreliable attributions of the nineteenth century, these pass through those of early twentieth century critics, up to that of Mina Gregori, who revised the inventory of the entire corpus of paintings left by Uberto on behalf of the Court of Florence in 1983. Few of Gregori's judgements have been questioned or corrected by critics subsequently.
The volume, published with thanks to a contribution by the Foundation, is supplemented by a rich documentary apparatus provided by an analysis of the documents relating to the Sacrati and Strozzi families which are preserved in various archives in Ferrara and Florence.