Farewell to Marella Caracciolo Agnelli, together with her husband Gianni founded the Pinacoteca that bears their name

Marella Agnelli passed away in Turin at the age of 92. She was an art collector and together with her husband Gianni founded the picture gallery that bears their name.

Collector and designer Marella Caracciolo Agnelli, widow of lawyer Gianni, died today in Turin at the age of 92. Born Marella Caracciolo di Castagneto on May 4, 1927, in Florence, she came from a family of Neapolitan aristocracy and married Gianni Agnelli in Strasbourg in 1953. A style icon known for her elegance in dressing, from the 1970s she worked as a designer of fashion fabrics, specializing in home furnishings and achieving some success.

However, Marella Agnelli is best known for her activities as a collector and art expert, which led her to important roles in various institutions: she was a member of the International Board of Trustees of the Salk Institute in San Diego and of the International Conucil of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, vice-president of the board of directors of Palazzo Grassi in Venice, president of the Association of Turin Friends of Contemporary Art, and for her merits she was awarded in 2000 the honor of Grande Ufficiale dell’Ordine al merito della Repubblica Italiana, at the proposal of the president of the Republic.

Her name, however, is inextricably linked to that of the Gianni and Marella Agnelli Pinacoteca, set up in a suspended structure in Turin’s Lingotto district to permanently house part of the important collection of artworks that belonged to the couple. The Pinacoteca was opened in 2002, and the building that houses it was designed by Renzo Piano: the main body (which Renzo Piano renamed “the casket”) houses twenty-five masterpieces from the 18th to the mid of the twentieth century (including six views by Canaletto, two by Bellotto, two plaster casts by Canova, Impressionist paintings by Renoir and Manet, a painting by Giacomo Balla, a work by Picasso from the blue period, and seven canvases by Matisse that make up an ensemble that has no equal in Italy), while the remaining five floors of the building are used for temporary exhibitions, offices, an educational center, and a library specializing in art collecting. Marella Agnelli personally oversaw, along with Gianni, the selection of the twenty-five masterpieces, as well as their distribution and arrangement in the rooms. “The exhibition,” declared grandson John Elkann at the opening, “speaks not only of their passion for art. It also says a lot about their idea of beauty and how they observe it and derive pleasure from it.” Marella Agnelli still held the role of honorary president.

“With Marella Agnelli,” said Piedmont Region President Sergio Chiamparino, “passes away an illustrious figure who accompanied the history of Turin in the 20th century with grace and elegance. My heartfelt condolences go to John, Lapo, Ginevra and the entire family, on my own behalf and that of the institution I represent.”

“The City of Turin,” says Mayor Chiara Appendino, “expresses its closeness to the Agnelli family on the passing of Mrs. Marella. In memory of a figure who over the years, for our country and beyond, played an important role in the world of art and culture.”

Farewell to Marella Caracciolo Agnelli, together with her husband Gianni founded the Pinacoteca that bears their name
Farewell to Marella Caracciolo Agnelli, together with her husband Gianni founded the Pinacoteca that bears their name

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