Art Collecting — From Ancient Civilizations to Contemporary Art

People buy art to appreciate it and enhance their life and environment. Ancient Greek and Egyptian civilizations started collecting art, and the early art collectors used their pieces to reflect status and wealth. After the fall of Rome, the art market was relatively stagnant until the rebirth of the classical world in the 15th and 16th centuries.
Wealthy families became patrons and commissioned works to fill their family collections. One example was the Medici family of Florence, which compiled a massive art collection. During the 17th century Baroque era, art continued a passion of kings and queens from European countries. Like the wealthy families from the previous centuries, monarchs created a demand for the foundations of the most significant public galleries in the continent today. Although art collecting continued to be a synonym of wealth and status, it also became a sign of intellectual acuity by the 18th century. At that time, it was common for young European aristocrats to tour Europe to learn more about the continent’s culture, history, and art. During these tours, they would purchase artworks and bring them back home to serve as souvenirs and sources of conversation. Art collecting started to become more accessible than before with the coming of the 19th century.
The advances of the Industrial Revolution impacted the financial status of families across Europe, enabling middle and upper-middle-class families to spend money on leisure and entering the artistic marketplace. Likewise, in the United States, American industrialists prompted an explosion in art collections, especially the business barons willing to feature themselves as equal to the European cultural elites.

At the beginning of the 20th century, collecting art continues to be a way to showcase wealth and status. However, it was also a way to enter a community interested in preserving art and demonstrating an affinity for the past and its artists. Nowadays, it is possible to go online and buy fine art without visiting a physical gallery. Through virtual galleries or their own websites, artists can sell digital prints or their original pieces. According to a 2021 Artsy Insider report titled, How the Next Generation of Collectors Is Buying Art, 39 percent of the experienced art collectors and 64 percent of the next-generation art collectors prefer to discover works on mobile.

Like other industrial families, Gabriele and Anna Braglia collected modern and contemporary art during all their life. In 2014 they decided to incorporate a art foundation with the desire to keep the integrity of their over 250 artworks together also in the future. Today the Gabriele and Anna Braglia Foundation has its museum space open to the public for cultural and educational purposes in Lugano Switzerland (www.fondazionebraglia.ch).

Swiss-Italian Pharmaceutical Entrepreneur Riccardo Braglia