Royal Navy Rear Admiral Enrico Secondo Guglielminetti (Asti 1844 – Rome 1918) collected Japanese and Chinese artifacts during his travels in the Far East, and the collection was donated to the museum in 1920.
This group of items stands as the most important of the Oriental collections in Palazzo Mazzetti’s Museo Civico. It is unique for the diversity of the exhibits which nevertheless reflect the taste for Chinoiseries and Japonaiseries that was prevalent in Europe from the 17th century.
The collection is also a significant example of 19th-century Oriental collectibles in Italy, and the refined objects testify the attention and passion of amateur collectors, where the “exotic” aspect is still evident. After its unification, the Italian state was also a key player in a century of scientific explorations and oceanic campaigns.
Rear Admiral Guglielminetti was the captain of the Governolo, a vessel present in scientific missions in the Far East (1872 – 1873). The cartographer of the scientific expedition Governolo was Giacomo Bove who redesigned all the coasts and wrote a detailed diary of the trip.
Royal Navy Physician General Giuseppe Rolando sailed on the Vettor Pisani, a corvette which undertook one of the most important trips to Japanese ports (1879), and he donated a number of items collected during those trips, including the mask of Tengu, to the Asti museum (1951).
Count Leonetto Ottolenghi was also entranced by the magic of the Orient and the precious set of glazed Japanese porcelain vases from his Corso Alfieri mansion is also on display here.