The Civic Collection

The city of Como owns 201 original documents relating to Sant’Elia, made up of 182 of the architect’s drawings, six period photographs (two of Villa Elisi and four for the Competition for the new Milan Central Station), two heliographs (for the Caprotti funerary monument), two drawings of Leonardo Dudreville and nine drawings of the architect Tancredi Motta for the competition for the savings bank Cassa di Risparmio di Verona, on which Sant’Elia also worked.
The first work to come into the ownership of the municipal authorities did so in 1930 when the drawing of the Torre faro [light tower] was proposed by Filippo Tommaso Marinetti as a model for the Monument to the Fallen on the shores of the lake. The drawing was transferred to the offices of the municipal authorities and to the museums in 1956.
The first substantial nucleus of 88 drawings was acquired in 1943 by the family through the efforts of a substantial group of Como patrons coordinated by Manlio Rho and Gianni Stecchini who had the works donated to the City the following year, handing them over to the Museo Civico.
In 1958 there was the loss of five drawings that had been loaned to the Foreign Ministry for the Italian exhibition at the Brussels Expo, from which they were stolen.
In 1961 preparations were initiated for the great exhibition at Villa Olmo where Como had decided to celebrate the works of its illustrious citizen. The city authorities called on private collectors and the architect’s own family to loan or donate further drawings so that as complete a picture of the life and works of the architect as possible could be presented to the public. There was a generous response from the sculptor Gerolamo Fontana who donated no less than eleven drawings from his collection, to which was added a further plate in 1967 which was sold to the municipality by the sculptor’s widow. Also in 1961 Anselma Sant’Elia, niece of the architect gave a period photograph to the city of the tables for the Competition for the New Milan Station. The engineer Gianni Mantero made a donation of one plate and another was forthcoming from the architect Tancredi Motta.
The following year the bank Cassa di Risparmio di Verona assigned to the City of Como the tables for the competition for its own headquarters in Verona. In 1962 the municipality used the compensation received following the theft of the drawings in Brussels for the purchase of another nucleus of drawings then in the possession of the artist’s sister Giuseppina Sant’Elia Broglia. This decision was made by Luciano Caramel and Alberto Longatti and resulted in 666 sheets coming to the City including two heliographs of the Caprotti Monument.
In 1967 seven drawings from the collection of the architect Antonio Carminati were acquired and in 1969 once again 11 drawings were stolen from the exhibition at Villa Olmo in Como.

Maria Letizia Casati
Collection curator