Achille Bertarelli

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Achille Bertarelli (born November 12, 1863 in Milan , † May 20, 1938 in Rome ) was an Italian bibliophile , art collector , patron and publicist .

Origin and early years

His parents were Pier Giuseppe Bertarelli and Carolina Nessi, an older brother was the geographer , publicist , cave explorer and pioneer of bicycle tourism Luigi Vittorio Bertarelli (1859-1926).

Achille studied law in Milan and Bologna , where he received his doctorate in 1888 . He then joined his brothers Giulio and Luigi Vittorio in his father's candle manufactory , which after his father's death by them to a company for the production of sacred was transformed objects and facilities; the "Fabbrica di Arredi Sacri F.lli Bertarelli" existed until the 1970s.

In November 1894, he and his brother Luigi Vittorio were founding members of the Touring Club Ciclistico Italiano (Italian Bicycle Tourism Club), which was renamed Touring Club Italiano (TCI) (Italian Touring Club) in 1900 .

Art collector and author

Early on, around 1890, Bertarelli developed his passion for collecting and studying engraved prints and illustrated books, focusing in particular on depictions of everyday life that were neglected by other collectors at the time. In bookplates , in old business cards , in views of cities, in prints of historical and folk themes, he was primarily interested in the contemporary depiction of an event, an environment, a taste . In the inventory of his collection, Spiegazione e stato numerico delle raccolte del Dr. A. Bertarelli al 1º gennaio 1905 , he cataloged them in the following subject areas: Historical prints; Customs and manners; Theater, literature and iconography; Mode of Transport; Arts and crafts; Commerce and advertising; Small prints; Book decorations; and colored prints.

In 1893 he acquired the fund of the famous Remondini printing and publishing house in Bassano del Grappa , which was founded in the 17th century and thus saved many historical prints from being misused as waste paper. He also bought Carlo Cattaneo's estate , consisting of books that had been collected for an Italian political library.

As early as 1897, Bertarelli and the bibliographer and librarian Giuseppe Fumagalli , then director of the Biblioteca Nazionale Braidense in Milan, increasingly turned to the history of the production and distribution of illustrated books and engraving of a particularly popular character, studying several aspects previously ignored: the old publishing companies; the styles of book decoration typical of some Italian cities in the 17th and 18th centuries; the large private collections of books and prints for which Fumagalli intended to compile a guide, but which was then only published in a single article in 1903.

In 1902 Bertarelli published his book Gli Ex libris italiani for the Milan publisher Ulrico Hoepli , and in 1911 he published the monumental work Il Biglietto da Visita Italiano at the Istituto Italiano d'Arti Grafiche in Bergamo , both in collaboration with David Henry Prior . In 1911 he organized, together with the Romanist and mediaevalist Francesco Novati, an exhibition of popular iconography as part of the Italian Ethnographic Exhibition in Rome and published the catalog for it.

In addition to Novati and Fumagalli, with whom he founded the Società Bibliografica Italiana and whose vice-president he was until its dissolution in 1915, his circle of friends included : the librarian and later prefect of the Biblioteca Ambrosiana in Milan Achille Ratti , who became Pope in 1922 ; the architect and art historian Luca Beltrami ; and the journalist Alfredo Comandini . From Fumagalli he learned the methodology of bibliographic research, from Novati the importance of Italian popular prints. In later years there were also younger researchers and art lovers in his circle, including Paolo Arrigoni , with whom he published the work Piante e Vedute della Lombardia in 1931 . It was Arrigoni who convinced Bertarelli to bring his collection to a municipal institution, where further expansion and awareness could be expected. This project was realized in autumn 1927: Bertarelli donated his huge collection of prints to the city of Milan and the city set up the Civica Raccolta Stampe with more than 300,000 exhibits in several rooms in the south wing of Castello Sforzesco . Bertarelli continued to take care of the collection and its constant expansion - as far as the family business allowed and in cooperation with the city officials.

Also in 1927, Hoepli published the monumental volume Tre Secoli di Vita Milanese 1630-1875 ( Three Centuries of Milanese Life ), written with Antonio Monti , which was reprinted in facsimile in 1976 . In 1929 the volume L'Imagerie Populaire Italienne was published in France .

Apart from a few smaller studies, Bertarelli dealt with Arrigoni after 1925 mainly with the preparation of careful catalogs of individual departments of their collection. Of these, Le carte geografiche dell'Italia and Le stampe storiche conservate nella raccolta del Castello Sforzesco , published in Milan in 1930 and 1932 respectively, are worth mentioning. In 1931 the biography of the aviation pioneer Francesco Zambeccari , written with Timina Caproni Guasti, appeared , in 1938 the work L'Aeronautica Italiana nell'Immagine 1487-1875, also written with Guasti . The volume Le Incisioni di GM Mitelli was only published posthumously in 1940.

Bertarelli contracted the flu there during a trip to Rome in 1938, which developed into pneumonia. He died in Rome on May 20, 1938. In the same year the city council of Milan decided to name their Civica Raccolta Stampe in Castello Sforzesco after its founder.


  • Gli ex libris italiani , 1902
  • Il biglietto da visita italiano. Contributo alla storia del costume e dell'incisione nel sec.XVIII , 1911
  • Catalogo, 3 vol. , 1925
  • Tre secoli di vita milanese nei documenti iconografici. 1630-1875 , 1927
  • L'imagerie populaire italienne , 1929
  • Le carte geografiche dell'Italia , 1930
  • Le stampe storiche conservate nella raccolta del Castello Sforzesco , 1932
  • Le incisioni di GM Mitelli , 1940


  1. Mario Infelise: Remondini in Dictionnaire Biografico degli Italiani , Volume 86, 2016
  2. ^ Achille Bertarelli: Gli Ex-Libris Italiani , Hoepli, Milan, 1902
  3. Achille Bertarelli: Il Biglietto since Visita Italiano; Contributo alla Storia del Costume e dell'Incisione nel Secolo XVIII. Istituto Italiano d'Arti Grafiche, Bergamo, 1911
  4. Paolo Arrigoni & Achille Bertarelli: Piante e Vedute della Lombardia , Tipografia del Popolo d'Italia, Milan, 1931
  5. ^ Achille Bertarelli & Antonio Monti: Tre Secoli di Vita Milanese 1630-1875 , Hoepli, Milan, 1927
  6. ^ Tre secoli di vita milanese nei documenti iconografici, 1630-1875 , Cisalpino-Goliardica, Milan, 1976
  7. ^ Achille Bertarelli: L'Imagerie Populaire Italienne , Duchartre & Van Buggenhoudt, Paris, 1929.
  8. Paolo Arrigoni & Achille Bertarelli: Le carte geografiche dell'Italia, Conservate nella Raccolta delle Stampe e dei Disegni . Comune di Milano, Istituti di Storia e d'Arte, 1930
  9. Paolo Arrigoni & Achille Berttarelli: Le stampe storiche conservate nella raccolta del Castello Sforzesco . Comune di Milano, Istituti di Storia e d'Arte, Tipografia del Popolo d'Italia, Milan, 1932
  10. Timina Caproni Guasti & Achille Bertarelli: Francesco Zambeccari, aeronauta, Bologna 1752-1812 . Museo Caproni, Milan, 1931
  11. Timina Caproni Guasti & Achille Bertarelli: L'Aeronautica Italiana nell'Immagine 1487-1875 , Edizioni d'Arte Emilio Bestetti, Milan, 1938.
  12. ^ Achille Bertarelli: Le Incisioni di GM Mitelli , Comune di Milano, 1940.

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