Giampietro Campana (1808-1880) was the owner of a large collection of maiolica wares and sculpture, much of which was purchased by the South Kensington Museum, in somewhat unusual circumstances, from the Papal States in 1860.
Giampietro Campana was born in Italy, into a family entrusted with the work of the Monte di Pièta, a papal charitable trust set up in the fifteenth century to prevent money lending. The Monte de Pièta operated as a pawnbroker to the Papal States, issuing loans at low interest to those in need, in return for the deposit of a valuable object. This could be reclaimed by the borrower on redemption of the loan. Campana joined the organisation as an assistant in 1831 and quickly rose to Director General. In 1835 he was made a Cavaliere of the Order of the Golden Spur by Pope Gregory XVI, in recognition of his work. In 1851 he was made Marchese di Cavelli by Ferdinand II of Naples. Campana built a great collection of Greek and Roman sculpture, Renaissance sculpture, Italian paintings of the 14th and 15th centuries, and maiolica wares. He acquired objects through the markets and from archaeological excavations on his properties and other sites; however, in the process of building the collection he embezzled funds from the Monte di Pièta. Campana was arrested and convicted by the Papal authorities in 1857 and forced into exile. His collection was put up for sale by the Papal States in 1858. Another collector, Ottavio Gigli, was caught up in the affair. He had pledged his collection of sculpture and maiolica wares to the Monte di Pièta in the expectation that Campana would buy it. When Campana was arrested Gigli’s collection was also confiscated by the Papal authorities. Keen to raise funds during the Italian Wars of Unification, the Papal States agreed to sell 84 works from the Gigli-Campana collection to the South Kensington Museum in 1860, including pieces by Donatello and Luca della Robbia.
Information in the V&A Archive
MA/3/11: Art Referees' reports, 1863-1886
MA/30: Central Inventory register, museum object numbers 7550-1861 to 7643-1861
ED 84/35: Precis of the Board minutes of the Science and Art Department, vol. I, 1852-1863
Henry Cole: diaries: typed transcripts, 1822-1882
Selected printed works
Report on the Campana Collection. London: HMSO, 1865. NAL pressmark: 79A
Inventory of the Objects in the Art Division of the Museum at South Kensington, Arranged According to the Dates of their Acquisition. Vol 1. London: HMSO, 1868. NAL pressmark: 602.AE.1353
Borowitz, Helen and Albert. Pawnshop and palaces: the fall and rise of the Campana art museum. Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press, c1991. NAL pressmark: 21.E.72
Sarti, Susanna. Giovanni Pietro Campana, 1808-1880: the man and his collection. Oxford: Archaeopress, 2001
Maclagan, Eric, and Margaret H. Longhurst. Catalogue of Italian Sculpture. London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 1932. NAL pressmark: VA.1932.0001-0002
Pope-Hennessy, John. Catalogue of Italian Sculpture in the Victoria and Albert Museum. Volume I: Eighth to Fifteenth Century. London: HMSO, 1964. NAL pressmark: 708.21 VIC
Wainwright, Clive. ‘The making of the South Kensington Museum III.’ Journal of the History of Collections 14, no.1 (2002): 45-61. NAL pressmark: PP.69.E
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