The auction house Lempertz is represented in ten cities throughout the world, from its headquarters in Cologne to major European capitals such as Paris and Brussels and far-away cities such as São Paulo. With Meet the Makers, we travel throughout the international world of Lempertz and take a look behind the scenes with their experts. This time, Carlotta Mascherpa takes us on a tour through Milan’s hidden treasures and tells us about an international auction house “with a personal touch”.
I started working for Lempertz in 2014 and I represent the auction house in Italy. As a specialist for old masters, what I probably enjoy most is finding unrecorded pieces, studying them and offering them to enthusiastic collectors. Italy is a country full of treasures, with a long history of art and of collecting art, and it is not unusual to find the unexpected here!
Lempertz is one of the most prestigious auction houses in Europe and thus in the world – but it is still a family business: they have a small select team and the directors personally take care of every aspect of the auction house. In a world where everything tends to be globalized, it is very pleasant to work in an environment with such an informal atmosphere. Lempertz really is the “international house with the personal touch”. Having to choose a place from where to operate in Italy, we thought of Milan as it makes sense logistically and also because it is simply one of the major locations for the international art market. But on a deeper level, there’s a great similarity between Lempertz and Milan that we found so fitting: we prefer substance rather than extravagance. And both Lempertz and Milan get straight to the point.
Milan is less Italian compared to other Italian cities: it has a very different charm about it. It is not loud, but full of hidden treasures waiting to be discovered. A dynamic city to its core, the city develops continuously and never stops. At the moment, Milan is one of the most interesting cities in Italy’s cultural world – and it has always been an international point of reference for an elevated lifestyle.
Milan’s cathedral is its most iconic landmark. The city is built on a radial structure and the church is the true centre of Milan, its very heart. The cathedral workshop, the fabrica, remained in operation for centuries: the foundation stone was laid in 1385 and yet the church was not completed until the middle of the 20th century. I would definitely recommend a trip to the Duomo’s roof where it is possible to walk among the spires and enjoy the beautiful views reaching as far as the Alps and the Apennines.
The Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie is one of the Milan’s most famous monuments and is known worldwide for Leonardo da Vinci´s Last Supper. Leonardo was not the only Renaissance giant to work there: under Ludovico il Moro, the architect Donato Bramante was responsible for designing the apsis, the cloister, the gallery and the old vestry.
The Museo del Novecento opened recently, in 2010. The collections, which illustrate the developments of Italian art in the last century, are housed in Palazzo dell’Arengario, a landmark building designed by Pier Giulio Magistretti and Piero Portaluppi, among others. The grand spiral staircase is probably its most impressive architectural feature, combining a predominantly functional aspect with a distinctive design.
Milan is a cosmopolitan metropolis, but its historical centre is rather small and it still reflects the history of the city. Areas such Brera or 5VIE behind the Duomo haven’t changed much in the last decades and you can still discover small independent businesses. Corso Magenta, for example, offers a variety of historic food shops, little cafes, trendy boutiques, monuments and museums. It is an ideal place to spend a relaxed afternoon.
Founded in 2015, Fondazione Prada is the newest kid in town and is an expression of the new millennium´s Milan: more than an art gallery or a just a container for an exhibition, it mirrors the intense and edgy soul of the city. A must see.