The collection was mainly formed with the paintings purchased by the Savoy Royal Family within the framework of a policy aimed to support the arts. Through the works of art bought in the Biennale of Venice, Quadriennale of Rome and Triennale of Milan art shows as well as in local exhibitions organised by associations and societies of artists or by the regional Fascist Fine Art Syndicates, the Quirinale Palace’s collection can be said to span over all the most significant art movements that emerged in Italy between the 1880s and the 1950s.
The second half of the 19th Century is represented by important examples of Genre Art and of Roman landscapes of the late 1800s, up to the dedicated military-inspired paintings by Giovanni Fattori. The Quirinale Palace collection includes the Livorno-born master’s small painting called Ordnance, which the Royal Family purchased at the Livorno Fine Arts Exposition in 1901.
The pre-futurist period is superbly represented by Giacomo Balla’s large and evocative canvas Affetti, signed and dated 1910, a duplicate of the central panel of the homonymous triptych. The painting depicts Elisa Marcucci, the artist’s wife, and his daughter Luce in their home on Rome’s Via Paisiello. The painting was personally purchased by Queen Margherita in the painter’s studio in 1914.
An emblematic example of futurist art is the painting Volo su Vienna by Alfredo Gauro Ambrosi, signed and dated 1933, which well represents the futurist expression of Aeropittura (Aeropainting). The many expressions of Italian Metaphysical Art are represented by a Drawing from Giorgio De Chirico’s “mythical” period, dated in the 1940s, and an oil painting on wood, Due Figure by Felice Casorati, dated circa 1921. By the same Piedmontese artist are six wood carvings for his illustrations of the book “Lucciole, grilli e barbagianni” by Sandro Baganzani, which were purchased in 1922.
The collection also features Arturo Martini’s ceramic of St. George killing the dragon, dated circa 1927-1928, that the artist crafted in the studio "La Fenice" in Albissola and several more works. The ceramic was purchased in 1933 at the 5th Triennale di Milano art show. The Quirinale Palace’s collection has a broad representation of the Roman School with works by Alberto Ziveri (Corrida, signed and dated 1951) and Mario Mafai (Fiori appassiti, 1935). Of the same period the collection includes works by Mario Sironi, a drawing on paper of 1931 and an oil painting titled Montagne of 1945, by Ottone Rosai (Biliardo, purchased in 1952), by Pio Semeghini, the Pescatore di Burano of 1913, Verona of 1924 and Frutta of 1948 and by Luigi Spazzapan, who is only represented in the Quirinale Palace’s collection with a gouache titled Fior di Siepe, of 1938.
Lastly, worthy of mention are two magnificent paintings from the figurative period of Giuseppe Capogrossi, dated circa 1938: Baraccone da Fiera (Saltimbanchi) and Dietro le quinte both purchased in 1939 at the 3rd Quadriennale Nazionale d'Arte of Rome.