Guglielmo Coronini Cronberg
Guglielmo Coronini Cronberg

Guglielmo Coronini Cronberg

Count Guglielmo Coronini Cronberg died in Vienna (Austria) on 13th September 1990. His death marked the end of one of the oldest families of noble origins in Gorizia, dating back to the Holy Roman Empire in the 10th century. The first to arrive in Gorizia was Cipriano il Vecchio from Bergamo in the 16th Century. In 1548  he was awarded by the Emperor Ferdinand I the fief, the title and the coat of arms. His family descended from the ancient lineage of the Knights von Cronberg hailing form the Electorate of Mainz. Many notable people, from ecclesiastics to men of arms, diplomats and men of letters were strong related to Coronini’s Family, the History of Gorizia as well as the House of Habsburg.

Guglielmo was born on 7th July 1905 during a vacation in Ruffrè, located in the province of Trento. He was the third-born son of the Count Carlo and the Countess Olga Westphalen von Fürstenberg (1868-1958). His elder sister was Nicoletta (1896-1984) and his brother was Francesco Giuseppe (1899-1964). He received private tuition at home until middle school, then he continued his studies at the high school  “Liceo Ginnasio Vittorio Emanuele III” of Gorizia, though sitting his final examination as a private external candidate. In the 1920s he moved to Florence to enroll in Agriculture and Forestry at the Regio Istituto Superiore Agrario e Forestale. In 1929 his parents enrolled him in Philosophy at the “Ludwig Maximilian” University of Munich, supporting his  passion for art history.

In 1936-37 he enrolled in Law at the University of Florence and submitted the thesis in 1940.  The periods he spent in Florence and in Munich, even if for a shorter stay, were extremely relevant to his education and to developing his talent for collecting. In Florence, Count Coronini got in touch with the urban artistic and cultural milieu, thanks also to his friendship with the Marquis Filippo Serlupi di Crescenzi, who was a distant relative and shared the same passion for antiques. At that time he met eminent art scholars and historians as Antonio Morassi, Rodolfo Pallucchini, Giuseppe Fiocco, Roberto Longhi, Bernard Berenson, Francesco Valcanover, Hermann Voss and Georg Richter.

  • Carlo Coronini Cronberg e Olga Westphalen von Fürstenberg nel giorno del loro matrimonio, Archivio Storico Fotografico, inv. 9850
  • Guglielmo Coronini Cronberg bambino, 1915, Archivio Storico Fotografico, inv. 4728
  • Guglielmo Coronini in crociera nel Mare del Nord, agosto 1939, Archivio Storico Fotografico, inv. 9512
  • Guglielmo Coronini in corso Verdi a Gorizia con il suo alano grigio, febbraio 1973, Archivio Storico  Fotografico, inv. 4852

The reason for his many trips, which he took already at an early age, was to study as well as to look after his family affairs and to buy precious objects. Some documents show that especially in the 1950s and 1960s Count Coronini bought several antiques from different places in Italy and Europe. He also got in contact with important museums and renowned institutions as the National Gallery of Washington, the Institut Royal du Patrimoine Artistique of Bruxelles,  the Metropolitan Museum of New York, the Akademie der bildenden Künste and the Österreichische Galerie of Vienna, the Musée Nationaux of Malmaison, the National Portrait Gallery of London and the Narodna Galerija of Lubiana. Even though Guglielmo Coronini was considered a determined and competent scholar, he didn’t produce a large number of writings.

He dedicated himself to genealogical studies and historical researches about Joseph II’s politics, the Austrian land registry, the Provincial States of Gorizia, the history of the local culture and architecture, the Counts of Gorizia and the Patriarchate of Aquileia, not to mention a corpus of partial writings, handwritten literature, notes, lists and transcriptions of documents related to his major historical work named Gorizia Comitale, which is a vast, unfinished collection of documents on the County of Gorizia (from its origins to the 16th century).

He also wrote some essays on art history, including an unpublished study on the painter Giorgio Liberale, and curated some of the most important exhibitions organized in Gorizia during the post-World War II period: The 18th Century in Gorizia (1956), a monographic exhibition about Giuseppe Tominz (1966) and Maria Theresa and the 18th Century in Gorizia (1982). In 1969 he was a founder member and the first President of the local branch of the National Association “Italia Nostra”, whose aim was to preserve the historical, cultural and environmental heritage of the Nation. He held the office of President with a great commitment and endless dedication until 1987.  The local branch published some relevant works of him: Gorizia 1915-18, Gorizia ottocentesca and Gorizia viva. I secoli e le ore della città.

According to his wishes, Count Guglielmo Coronini was lied to rest in the quiet Family Chapel of the Palace, which has now become a silent destination for those who knew him, and for tourist coming to admire his wonderful residence and the beauty of its Park.