Design & Decoration S04 ep2 : Dino Tomasso, Tomasso Brothers Antiques, [West Yorkshire]
Interview with Dino Tomasso
Tomasso Brothers Fine Art was established in 1993 and is based at Bardon Hall, Leeds. Dino and Raffaello are recognised internationally for specialising in important European sculpture from the early Renaissance to the Neo-Classical periods with a particular knowledge of European Renaissance bronzes. They also have interests in several other fields including Old Master paintings, antiquities, fine furniture and objects. They have promoted and supported, through loans and exhibitions, major international institutions such as the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge; the Centro Internazionale, Carrara; The National Gallery, Prague; and the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna. In addition, the company has advised a number of private collectors of European sculpture and Old Master paintings and made significant sales to some of the world's most prestigious museums, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Bode Museum, Berlin; the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, (Sarah Campbell Blaffer Foundation and Rienzi Collection): The Liechtenstein Collection, Vienna; Yale Center for British Art; the Art Institute of Chicago; and the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna. Tomasso Brothers Fine Art was one of the sponsors of the landmark show Bronze at the Royal Academy of Arts, London, 2012.
Tomasso Brothers Firm itself started in 1993 with myself, Dino and my two brothers Giovani
and Raphael. 01:10
What we’re actual trying to do is bring back to the art market things that have been lost over
Dad use to always be interested in the European side of arts expert. He started his business the
business in the 60’s. We were very fortunate to be able grow up every day with these wonderful
works of art.
But more well known for buying Renaissance works of art, Baroque works of art, and Neo
Classic works of art and specialize in 16th 17th century Italian bronzes particularly some French
but we actually do buy ancient Egyptian, Greek, and Roman things as well.
I had no choice; I was made to work at the age of 15. Dad always wanted us to be enthusiastic
about the business and I must say all three of us from a very early age have always been very
enthusiastic about the business
We use to go bed at night and all our sides of our bags were always full of antique catalogues,
antique books and we use to have competitions to see who could recognize which artists and
which period and so it’s basically an outlet.
My grandfather was a very famous jazz musician. My whole family still is a jazz family. My
father was an opera singer in his early career and his late, and they were very fortunate when
Louis Armstrong came to England they actually played with him as well and I picked up the
trumpet, in fact I played the trumpet for six months but it didn’t work out.
We have a wonderful pair of marble statues. One is after the antique model and one is modeled
by a very famous Florentine sculptor called Jambolonia that was made to pair with the ancient
model. He made them in small scale bronzes. There aren’t really any at this scale from the
lifetime of Jambolonians, but these were made in Florence certainly around about the years
Another great object that we found about twenty years ago in a small auction in England. It was
a very important painting by an artist called JerolaMasolodo painted about 1525. At the same
time Titian was painting and that was a very important painting and that painting is now sold to
the Chicago Art Institute
It was rolled up on the table. When we looked at the painting it looked like a Titian and we
were very, very excited at the time as we thought it was a titian but then the more we studied it
and after it was being conserved we realized it wasn’t quite a titian but the next best thing.
We discovered a Jambolonia bronze that again had been lost. As a beautiful, beautiful bronze of
the Venus by Jambolonian made in about 1585 1590 but the multitrack subject and that came
from a small auction in France.
One of the brothers spends all day at his desk looking at catalogues from all over the world, also
on the internet all over the world. He’s got such a good eye and he’s able to spot these things
that were lost and are now out of context. If we think an object is important enough we will
travel to see it in the flesh but sometimes it’s not necessary because these days digital
photograph world is so good that 90% of the time you make a judgment over the internet
We work in a field where our great expertise is to be able to tell when a bronze was cast
because they are repeated over the centuries so you may get a 17th century or a 16th century
bronze that was cast in the 17th century which is obviously worth a fraction of its value of the
original 16th century or you may get faked in the 19th century
Bronze collecting and the study of bronzes is a science. The Wright Museum in Amsterdam
now has a machine that you can see inside a bronze. The metal content of bronze has changed
from ancient times up to modern times so there have been varied studies done about what the
different content of the different allies are in the bronze at certain periods.So even down to the
fact that they can pin point it precisely now from the 16th century to the 17th century to the 18th
When I first went out buying for dad I bought a painting, brought it home showed it to dad, he
said “oh yes, lovely.” He said it looked a little bit dark what can you do with an old master
painting to liven it up when it’s being lost is that you can wipe it with turpentine and it brings it
alive and enables you to see the picture. We took it outside in the sunshine, my father and I. I
wiped it over with the turpentine so basically the painting disappeared and store it; we painted it
in the last six months unbeknown to me. I bought it at an auction; dad was laughing his head off
at the time.
OFFICIAL WEBSITE: Dino Tomasso, Tomasso Brothers Antiques, West Yorkshire