Via Fondazione Magnani Rocca, 4
“My tastes for painting, music, and poetry did not evolve independently. This also explains the variety of my cultural interests and my work”, Luigi Magnani confided to the art historian Carlo Bertelli.
Magnani (1906-1984) devoted his entire life to art, music, and literature. He combined these passions through his university lectures, his compositions – he was a pupil of Alfredo Casella – conferences, and writings, such as those about Mozart and Goethe, Schoenberg and Mallarmé, Beethoven, Stendhal, Proust, Mann, Morandi, and Dallapiccola.
Music was a recurring theme in the halls of Villa Magnani Rocca, whose owner hosted sophisticated musical performances for friends and acquaintances such as Eugenio Montale, Cesare Brandi, Leoncillo, and Carlo Emilio Gadda. This is evidenced by the grand fortepiano by Johann Fritz (Vienna, 1810 c.), the chromatic cross-strung harp by Pleyel-G.Lyon (Paris, late 19th century), and the subjects of some of the works displayed, such as the pages of Medieval illuminated choir books and antiphonaries: Tromba sulla spiaggia and W Mozart by Filippo De Pisis, Natura morta con strumenti musicali by Gino Severini, and one by his friend Giorgio Morandi; significantly, this is the only work the artist ever did on commission.
Villa Magnani Rocca, with its empire-style furniture and the works of art, faithfully reflects Magnani’s interests. Located in the countryside near Parma, it was purchased in 1941 by Magnani’s father Giuseppe, a wealthy entrepreneur in the dairy sector and a music lover, and his mother Eugenia Rocca, a woman of culture who passed on her love for literature and art to her son.
Magnani lived there full-time from 1977, and decided to turn the villa into a Foundation in memory of his beloved parents, and to fulfil their desire to make available to the public the collection they began, and which their son continued to augment with skill and sensitivity. In addition to Pietro di Francesco Orioli’s Sacra Famiglia con quattro Angeli, purchased by Magnani in 1943, over the years the collection acquired many other paintings, sculptures, and engravings by artists such as Gentile, Ghirlandaio, Dürer, Mazzolino, Tiziano, Rubens, Tiepolo, Fűssli, Goya, Canova, Monet, and Nicolas de Staël, plus collections of works by Cézanne and Morandi.
In spite of the significant changes that took place as the villa was turned into a museum, the former “Court of Mamiano” still preserves the memory of the sophisticated scholar and collector who liked to “move the works about to create new connections between artists and shapes, light and matter, space and ideas”.