Frascione Gallery brings works by Old Masters to Palm Beach

A gallery with roots that stretch back more than a century in Italy has opened its newest location in Palm Beach.

Gallery Frascione, tucked away on Via Amore at Worth Avenue, is the first U.S. site for the gallery, which was founded in Florence, Italy, in 2009 but has a pedigree that stretches back to 1893.

The gallery, owned and operated by husband-and-wife team Federico Gandolfi Vannini and Daisy Diaz, is based on a collection based in Florence, Italy, that includes rare and diverse images from the Baroque, Medieval and Renaissance periods, the couple said.

More ▼: Memory Lane: A mule-drawn trolley takes you from the Royal Poinciana Hotel to the beach

“We’ve always been art dealers,” Vannini said of his family. His great-grandfather, Enrico Frascione, who founded the collection in the late 19th century, worked with museums and collections around the world, Vannini said. Frascione will spend months crossing the Atlantic to the U.S. and then attending auctions, he said.

“It’s not like today, you talk on the phone and transfer the money. It’s very romantic,” he said.

Although their collection is known for works by the Old Masters – a group of European artists who worked before 1800 – the gallery space combines these works with contemporary works. Vannini looks for complementary pairs: an Old Master work and a 20th or 21st century work that complement each other.

In one such grouping, Vannini placed three portraits: in the center, the 17th-century Portrait of Claudia de’ Medici by Justus Sustermans, and on either side, a contemporary portrait by Cuban artist Diango Hernández.

“In this case, what you can combine is the talent, the attention to detail,” Vannini said.

The goal is to create a dialogue between the pieces, he said.

“It could be based on anything,” Vannini said. “Aesthetics, Spirituality.”

He’s also known for his ability to find historically important works that may be layered under centuries of dirt and extra paint or in a frame that’s out of place, Diaz said.

“They’ll put that frame in or they’ll varnish it with the wrong technique and then somehow it gets into his hands and he looks at it very much like the preservation foundation,” she said, referring to the Palm Beach Preservation Foundation and its work on preservation and protection of sites of historical importance around the island.

“When you buy something, it’s usually like a gem. It could be a diamond but with carbon black on top so people only see the carbon black,” Vannini said. “But we can see there’s a diamond inside.”

This happened recently when Vanini acquired a painting of Saint Sebastian. The work is from the Renaissance era and the artist is unknown, but the varnish has yellowed and the painting needs to be restored, Vannini said.

As his restoration team worked, they began to discover signs that there was something very special about the painting. They noticed “pentimenti” or changes made to a painting by an artist.

“During the cleaning, you can tell the picture has changed,” Vannini said. “What started as just instinct… then you realize your intuition was great.”

As the restorers and Vannini scrutinized the painting, they saw that the artist had changed the position of the saint’s head and hand, Vannini said.

After consultation with an expert in London, the decision was made: the painting is by Titian, one of the most prominent Renaissance artists of the 16th century.

The couple and their four children moved to the US from Italy just as the COVID-19 pandemic began in early 2020.

“We took one of the last flights from Italy to America,” Vannini said. “Italy was hit first.”

“It was horrible,” Diaz added. “We told our kids, ‘Two weeks and we’ll be back.’ They had to leave school, everything. And we never went back. We thought it would take two weeks just to slow down the distribution.

More ▼: Palm Beach Atelier is opening for a second season in the historic Paramount Building

They settled in Miami, but fell in love with Palm Beach while vacationing there.

“I’ve been here before, but Palm Beach has really changed tremendously,” Diaz said. “The beauty has always been there, but there’s just something different, or maybe we’re just at a different stage in our lives,” she added, laughing.

The couple felt transported to a different world, thinking it was incredible that they could board the Brightline train from Miami and arrive somewhere like Palm Beach.

“We knew right away that this was the better place for us, for our gallery,” Vannini said. “That same weekend we discovered this space and it just seemed to click.”

This was in January 2023, and within less than a year the couple managed to organize and open the Frascione Gallery.

Frascione Gallery

address: 256 Worth Ave., Suite O, Palm Beach

Information: frascionarte.com

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *