In the December Issue of ‘Art History

Posted in journal articles by Editor on December 20, 2010

Rosalind P. Blakesley, “Pride and the Politics of Nationality in Russia’s Imperial Academy of Fine Arts, 1757-1807,” Art History 33 (December 2010): 800-35.

Abstract: In 1757, the Imperial Academy of Fine Arts was founded in St Petersburg to professionlize painting, sculpture, and architecture, and to further the careers of Russian artists in all three disciplines. While the Academy’s early chamipons relied on western European artists to galvanize local developments, they also harboured ambivalent attitudes towards foreign involvement in Russian artistic affairs. This article traces the resulting web of conflicting loyalties and aspirations which underpinned, but also complicated, Russia’s quest to create a body of art which it could call its own. It then attends to the ways in which the portraitists Dmitry Levitsky and Vladimir Borovikovsky both interacted with and set themselves apart from western European practice. Rethinking Russian painting in this way as a critical component of a European mainstream sheds light on the realization (or otherwise) of a national school of art.

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Though dealing mainly with the history of a Renaissance building in the nineteenth century, Allie Terry’s article on the Bargello in Florence may also be of interest to Enfilade readers. As she notes, the transition of power in the eighteenth century from the Grand Duchy of Tuscany to the House of Lorraine brought to a close the practice of torture at the site, though it remained a prison: “In 1782, Pietro Leopoldo I ordered a mass burning of all torture instruments in the Bargello courtyard” (841).

Allie Terry, “Criminals and Tourists: Prison History and Museum Politics at the Bargello in Florence,” Art History 33 (December 2010): 836-55.

Abstract: Focusing on the Bargello, this essay interrogates the use of violence as an aesthetic frame for tourists to Florence and examines the architectural transformation of the prison through attention to the cultural agenda of the nineteenth-century Risorgimento and its manipulation of the material culture of the city. The replacement of a historical blemish, such as the corporeal violence associated with the Bargello prison, with a new historical monument, the Bargello museum, in the nineteenth century effectively drew on the power of the place to project both backward into the past and forward into the future. By transforming the site in a cultural institution that still retained its architectural shell, the museum displayed its institutional past to expose its foreignness to the present moment and initiated the creation of a new meta-narrative of Italian judicial, and cultural, history.

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