Gianni Mattioli was an Italian dealer of raw cotton with a keen interest in literature and fine arts, especially modern and contemporary Italian art. As a collector, he favored the early Italian avant-garde, focusing in particular on early Futurism and Pittura metafisica and later also on Giorgio Morandi. He would eventually own more than 30 examples of Futurist art alone.
Mattioli’s involvement in the art world commenced in Milan in the early 1920s, when he befriended the artist Fortunato Depero and engaged in the post World War I activities of the Futurist movement. Throughout his life Mattioli remained a regular visitor to galleries and museums and a supporter of initiatives aimed at furthering the knowledge of Italian modernism at home and abroad.
Mattioli assembled most of his collection in the late 1930s and 1940s. In 1949 he procured en bloc 87 works by Italian and French avant-garde artists from the renowned Italian collector Pietro Feroldi (1881–1958). Mattioli retained 40 of those pieces for his own collection, to which he eventually added more than 60 works ranging in date from the 1910s to c. 1950. He owned works by the leading figures of the Futurist movement: Giacomo Balla, Umberto Boccioni, Carlo Carrà, Depero, and Gino Severini, as well as works by Giorgio de Chirico, Amedeo Modigliani, Marino Marini, Morandi, and Mario Sironi. In addition, Mattioli’s collection included examples by Georges Braque, Fernand Léger, Juan Gris, and Pablo Picasso. Among the Cubist works acquired by Mattioli was Braque's Still Life on a Table: Duo pour flute (1913–14; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Promised Gift from the Leonard A. Lauder Cubist Collection).
In 1950, Mattioli made his collection accessible by appointment to scholars, artists, and fellow collectors, and once a week, to the general public. Three years later the collection appeared at a public venue—the Palazzo Strozzi, Florence—for the first time. Additionally, part of the collection toured around the world, including six venues in the United States, from 1967 to 1972. Upon Mattioli’s death, his daughter, the art historian Dr. Laura Mattioli, inherited the collection. She arranged for part of the collection to be deposited on long-term loan at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice, from 1997 to 2016.
For more information, see
The Gianni Mattioli Collection: Masterpieces of the Italian Avant-garde
. Milan: Skira, 2003.
Masters of Modern Italian Art from the collection of Gianni Mattioli. Exh. cat. Introduction and catalogue by Franco Russoli. Circulated by the International Exhibitions Foundation, 1967-1969. Participating museums: The Phillips Collection, Washington DC, Dallas Museum of Fine Arts, San Francisco Museum of Art, Detroit Institute of Arts, William Rockhill Nelson Gallery of Art, Kansas City, Missouri, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts.