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Speech

Opening of The Corsini Collection exhibition at Auckland Art Gallery

Issue date: 
Saturday, 2 September 2017
Speaker: 
The Rt Hon Dame Patsy Reddy, GNZM, QSO

Rau rangatira mā, e kui mā, e koro mā, e huihui nei,

tēnei aku mihi māhana ki a koutou. Kia ora tātou katoa.

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, warm greetings to you all. I acknowledge

His Excellency Fabrizio Marcelli, Ambassador of Italy;

Rhana Devenport, Director of the Auckland Art Gallery; Countess Livia Sanminiatelli Branca and

Countess Elisabetta Minutoli Tegrimi of the Corsini Family – tēnā koutou katoa

It’s a great pleasure to be invited here this evening for the official opening of “The Corsini Collection: A Window on Renaissance Florence.”

The art works in this exhibition have much to say about the glories of renaissance and baroque art and the foresight of the family that assembled this exceptional collection over so many generations.If, as the Roman poet Horace said “A picture is a poem without words,” then this exhibition is visual poetry.

Spanning seven centuries, these works give us a precious glimpse of other times. The paintings convey stories of marriages and alliances, of power won and lost, of ambition, religion, politics, war and peace. The clothing and hairstyles may be different, but the preoccupations of Renaissance Florence are not so very different from our own.

For lovers of art and art history, this is a wonderful opportunity to see the work of some of the Great Masters in close proximity. Studying reproductions is no substitute for being able to see the true colours of the work and the subtle nuances and tiny details that the artist has included.

For some it may be the intricate folds in the gowns of Botticelli’s angels that grab their attention.  For others, it may be the challenging gaze of the unknown man in del Ghirlandaio’s portrait that makes an impression. Each of us will experience this exhibition in our own way and will discover works we find compelling. Together we have a rare opportunity to immerse ourselves in a collection of extraordinary beauty and significance.

It is a great privilege to for us to be able to see the works from a great Florentine private collection here in New Zealand.  It’s a reminder of the importance of creating cultural relationships between nations.

The sharing of our arts and culture has immense meaning in terms of continuing friendships. There have long been connections between New Zealand and Italy, right from the 1800s when Italians first settled in New Zealand.But when we are able to share cultural touchstones, we gain a greater understanding of each other. The magnificent Corsini Collection reminds us of the value of honouring culture and making it available for all to share.

I’d particularly like to acknowledge the Corsini family. The art of collecting lies as much in the ability to keep and preserve a collection as it does on an eye for art and the possession of appropriate financial resources.

Your family’s stewardship of this collection over many centuries, through wars, political upheavals and devastating natural events, is greatly valued by all art lovers.

That you have been prepared to let it tour so far from Italy, and to be shown here in the Auckland Art Gallery, is remarkably generous and greatly appreciated by us all.

I know I speak for everyone here when I say that I can’t wait to see the masterpieces that are waiting for us on the walls of the gallery.  So without any further ado, I now have much pleasure in declaring this exhibition open.

Kia ora huihui tātou katoa

Last updated: 
Saturday, 2 September 2017

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