Between the Twenties and Thirties, the young masters were surrounded by indifference. No cultural understanding existed of the quality of modern art and only well-known painters were held in esteem. Moreover, public institutions, slow and uncertain in their purchases, were being replaced by private individuals, pure enthusiasts, art critic amateurs.
Rimoldi was one of these. His first purchases were directed towards traditional nineteenth-century Italian works, but soon, on both the walls of the tourist agency managed by him and in the Hotel Corona, the paintings appeared of artists who had been his guests.
These works tended to be customised: the painters were asked by the collector to execute, for instance, portraits or landscapes dear to him. Not all of them were inspired by the valley where they were staying, but they all lit it up with their own personal genius.
With the arrival of de Pisis, the merger of painting and Ampezzo landscape achieved perfection: the artist's talent was inspired by the distinctive features of the alpine wooden buildings, the fields, the firs and the bell tower. De Pisis, an international artist, but tied to the Veneto area through Cadore and Venice, became the big name of the Rimoldi collection and a link with the Paris artistic milieu.
Apart from the artists who went to Cortina however, the collector found a rich source of updating and information in the Venice Biennial. In 1941, the collection had already been substantially defined and was of considerable value. Centre pieces were the splendid works by de Pisis, Morandi, Semeghini. Together with works by Rosai, Campigli, Sironi, Garbari, Severini, Tosi and Guidi, the picture of pre-1940 Italian masters was far more complete than in most public galleries. This picture was further extended with the sculptures of Martini, Marini and Sironi. The painters of the post-Second World War period, including Vedova and Santomaso, became part of the group even before their fame had been acknowledged.
In the exhibition staged at Cortina in 1941, the packed list of Italian names is indicative of Rimold's choices. Of the thirty-two Italian artists, over half are from Veneto (Martini, Juti, Ravenna, Rossi) or tied to the Venetian school (Carena, de Pisis, Moggioli, Semeghini). De Pisis occupies a lead role, with works which, though centred on subjects stretching from Cortina to Rimini, also include Milan, Venice and Paris paintings. The pictures in the collection represent the best works produced in Italy in the years between the two wars and Veneto is, from this point of view, a stimulating observatory centred on the Italian art of that period.
In the years after the war, the extraordinary opportunities started to appear offered by the Venice Biennial, which prompted Rimoldi to visit the first large exhibitions of modern art, with frequent trips to Paris. This way he discovered the historical avant-gardes and, to give a broader image of the artistic world, his collection was enlarged with experimental works of artists already represented with figurative paintings, such as Severini, Sironi, Soldati, Savinio.
Meanwhile, the art patron began collecting the leading names of the early 20th century, including Campigli, Carrà, de Chirico, de Pisis, Guidi, Morandi, Rosai, Severini, Sironi and Tosi and also took an interest in artists tied to the figurative school, promoted not least because of their ties with the Veneto milieu - Cadorin, Cesetti, Saetti, Tomea, Depero.
Interest was however also shown for new movements taking shape outside Veneto.
New additions to the collection are Guttuso's La Zolfara (a painting for which R. refused offers from the Hermitage at Leningrad) and the protagonists of new experimentation, such as Corpora, Crippa, Dova, Morlotti, Music, Santomaso, Vedova.
Rimoldi also discovered new foreign artists such as Kokoschka, Leger, Villon, Zadkine, and was starting to take an interest in the new avant-garde and the abstract artists of the Fifties, with the aim of creating a complete American-type collection of the major artists of his age.
That he had made the right decision was confirmed by the fact that English and US galleries were making high bids to purchase his works. Becoming part of the collection was virtually a sign of official recognition for artists.
Following in the footsteps of leading European collectors, untiring creators of public galleries, the intention to tie the collection to Cortina and keep it together in a public gallery, became increasingly evident. One of the last things Rimoldi did in fact was to donate the very best works in his collection to the Regole d'Ampezzo: this became executive in 1974, through his widow Rosa Braun.
Thus a gallery was set up that would be the pride of any large city: the collection is in fact considered one of the foremost expressions of 20th-cent. Italian painting. Among the major works of modern painting in Italy, besides 54 works by de Pisis, stand out: The Bagnanti by Carena, the Squero di San Travaso by Semeghini, the Zolfara by Guttuso, the San Sebastiano by Garbari, the Ile des charmes di Savinio and the Concerto by Campigli.
During the years that followed, the museum was endowed with numerous other donations, such as nearly 100 works of Alis Cabessa Levi.
Well-known artists have donated their creations: Music, Gard, Madiai, De Stefano, Gonzales, Seppi, Barbarigo.