In 1954 my grandmother Clara Cappuzzo Matteis opened her first art gallery, Galleria d’Arte Antica, in the Northern Italian city of Padua. The space was startling, covering over 1,000 square metres and dedicated mostly to Chinese Art. Between 1935 and 1952 she had lived in Beijing, as my grandfather Ugo Cappuzzo was the doctor at the Italian Embassy and worked for the Rockefeller Foundation.
On her return from China after the Second World War she had a remarkable collection of Chinese art and opened what amounted to the first gallery in Italy specialising in this field. Collectors and dealers came from all over the world to visit my grandmother and admire her pieces, some of which were sold to international institutions such as the Met Museum in New York. Hers was one of the first galleries to take part in the Biennale at Palazzo Strozzi in Florence (launched in 1959), and she exhibited at art fairs in Todi, Cortona, Rome, and Cernobbio. She also had a gallery in Cortina d’Ampezzo. Well known for her elegance, my grandmother was elected “Chanel Woman of the Year” in the late 1990s.
My father Giuliano Cappuzzo earned a degree in the fine arts and worked as a designer, and his passion was always in the Old Masters. He worked as a partner with my grandmother, subsequently opening his first gallery, Artstudio, on the via Maggio in Florence. My father had an extraordinary eye for quality, and he sold numerous paintings to major collectors and Italian museums.
I lived in this environment from my childhood and was always attracted to Old Master Paintings. When I completed my art studies in the Palazzo Spinelli in Florence, I took up my father’s passion, although I was also drawn strongly to French Modern Art. In the 1990s I happened to meet some significant Japanese collectors who taught me how to look at Impressionism, and especially Cézanne, Degas, Seurat, and Renoir, not to mention some of the great Italians of the twentieth century such as Morandi and De Chirico.
In recent years I have concentrated on the Old Masters, making important discoveries among the works of Guercino, Guido Reni, Giampietrino, Luca Giordano, Gentileschi, Crespi, Snyders, Spranger, and others; and I have closely studied Caravaggio and Leonardo da Vinci.
Looking to the future, my hope is to continue on the path of discovery, recognising great paintings and finding new homes for them in private and public collections.