font-awesome-load
material-design-icons-load

An Art Dealer's Photographs: The Collection of Elia Volpi

Alceo Dossena

One implication of the flourishing art market of the early twentieth century was the fact that, as well as original works, there were also numerous fakes in circulation. On more than one occasion the scandal of a work declared to be “authentic” and then proved to be fake after purchase ended with the sellers being served with a subpoena by the cheated buyers. However it was not always the artists or artisans who intentionally passed off their work as that of another: often the transformation from “in the style of” into a simple “by” was the work of the art dealers. One of the biggest scandals in this respect concerned the sculptor Alceo Dossena (1878-1937): with his perfect mastery of the ancient style, both Roman and Greek, Gothic and Renaissance, he did not so much copy but rather create sculptures ex novo which were considered as still unknown, but authentic, works attributed to prestigious artists even by discerning experts such as Wilhelm von Bode. The sale occurred mainly through the mediation of the antiquarians Alfredo Fasoli and Alfredo Pallesi. Elia Volpi also dealt with sculptures by Dossena, including, for example, the bas-relief of an Annunciation to Mary. As the wording on the back of the photo shows, the work was attributed to Simone Martini: "Very rare marble sculpture by Simone Martini!". The proceedings that followed failed to establish any intentional fraud on the part of Volpi or Dossena. Nevertheles, Volpi had to buy back some of the works.


Unidentified photographer: Virgin Annunciate, Alceo Dossena in the style of the sienese Trecento, privat collection. Silver bromide gelatine print, piece attributed to Simone Martini on the back, 25,4 x 16,1 cm, 1920/30, inv. no. 608119

Unidentified photographer: Madonna with Child, Alceo Dossena, Unknown location. Silver bromide gelatine print, 24,5 x 18 cm, 1920/30, inv. no. 607438

Unidentified photographer: Madonna with Child, Alceo Dossena, Unknown location. Carbon print, 25,7 x 18,3 cm, 1920/30, inv. no. 430751

Unidentified photographer: Mary Magdalen and benefactor, Alceo Dossena, Florence, private collection. Carbon print (left), 23,1 x 11,9 cm, Silver bromide gelatine print (right), 23,2 x 11,7 cm, 1920/30, inv. no. 430761

Unidentified photographer: Angel of the annunciation, Alceo Dossena, Pittsburgh, University of Pittsburgh. Carbon print, 25,3 x 17,1 cm, c. 1920, inv. no. 430768

Unidentified photographer: Angel of the annunciation (detail), Alceo Dossena, Pittsburgh, University of Pittsburgh. Carbon print, 25,1 x 19,9 cm, c. 1920, inv. no. 430767

Unidentified photographer: Virgin Annunciate (detail), Alceo Dossena, Pittsburgh, University of Pittsburgh. Carbon print, 25,5 x 19,2 cm, c. 1920, inv. no. 430769

Unidentified photographer: Saint Bernardino, Alceo Dossena, Unknown location. Silver bromide gelatine print, 23,4 x 18,8 cm, c. 1939, inv. no. 430757




© KHI in Florence | 26.09.2020 10:05:03