For centuries, educated people often aspired to assemble notable collections in their field of interest. Maybe it was ancient Greek artifacts or Chinese export porcelain or even historical documents. But today, this kind of collecting is a rare thing. People still collect art (though sometimes I question if many of these art collectors actually understand the art that they're purchasing), and thank goodness there are those who have the good sense to buy antiques. But it does seem as though the Sir John Soanes of the world are a dying breed.
What especially interests me are the homes of collectors. Their houses are not filled with "stuff", but rather with unique specimens that reflect the interests and personality of the homeowner. Take, for example, the Roman apartment seen here, what was the home of the late Italian architect Andrea Busiri Vici. According to the French language article from which these photos were taken, Vici built and decorated his apartment so as to properly display his various collections that included autographs, documents, miniatures, books, and pagan statues. (Keep in mind that it's been years since I attended French class, so my translation may not quite be up to snuff.) Regardless of the shoddy translation, you can look at the photos of his apartment and see that he had all kinds of wonderful things: intaglios; portrait paintings; miniatures; antique furniture; and busts, though I can't tell if they're of the pagan variety or not. The collections were of great importance to their owner, and as such they were displayed prominently throughout the home. But what's interesting to note is that the home doesn't seem cluttered nor museum-like. It was actually a very attractive and comfortable way of living with one's collection.
The living room/library where one could relax on the sofa with a good book or conduct a little research at the round table in the corner.
A smaller drawing room with intaglios, paintings, and miniatures hung on the walls.
To the left, a sculpture peeks out from behind the circular stairwell. At right, two Piranesi prints, one of which depicts the Trajan Column.
A quotation from Stendhal was painted above the door frame.
I know that I should say that the library is my favorite room in this apartment, but I'd be lying. It's this very chic terrace.
At first, I thought the closet doors were painted with trompe l'oeil documents, but I believe that in fact they are family papers and ephemera that were displayed behind sheets of glass.
All photos from Connaissance des Arts, 15 October 1954.